Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) is making steady progress in its struggle to attain accreditation from African Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Uganda applied for accreditation last year and hopes to get it during the meeting of the association which it is also hosting in May this year.
Uganda applied for accreditation last year and hopes to get it during the meeting of the association which it is also hosting in May this year. Despite the progress made, however, a lot still needs to be done at UWEC in Entebbe to get the accreditation.
The African Association of Zoos and Aquariums sets a list of conditions which must be fulfilled to be accredited. The conditions among others include; the Organisation and Management structure, Safety measures, technical specifications and information and feedback centres. It also puts emphasis on human and animal safety, accommodation facilities and clearly laid guidelines.
UWEC has fulfilled many of the conditions like, the management, personnel and information centres. The centre has qualified staff, which is a requirement for accreditation; it has management structures in place led by the board and many other facilities.
However, the challenge remains with human and animal safety, access for disabled persons and clear warning signs against danger posed by animals to human life.
Belinda Atim, the UWEC Public Relations and Education Officer, says though they have made big strides, there is still a long way to go. She says there are things which they thought were minor, but according to the guidelines presented, they have turned out to be big issues. She sites cases of lack of warning signs, sticking out wires and facilities for disabled persons. Atim says the centre is working on these remaining issues to ensure that UWEC gets accredited.
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She says though the standards are very high, they will work to ensure that UWEC gets accredited. She says the centre will also use the conference to learn new issues in the management of wildlife in a zoo setting.
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She says with the accreditation, more funding opportunities will be opened since some donor agencies prefer working with accredited institutions. Outside Southern Africa, Uganda is the only country that’s a member of the association. It is also striving to be the first country to be accredited outside South Africa. Currently, only five zoos, all in South Africa are accredited. They are; Cango Wildlife Ranch, National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, South African Association of Marine Biological Research, Johannesburg Zoo and Lorry Park Zoo and Owl Sanctuary.