Kabwoya seeks indigenous tree funds, Abakurungo clan win Ekiteera Cup

Mr Tom Tibaleka, the Field Manager for Friends of Chimpanzees in Kagadi District, handing musizi trees to Abakurungo clan head coach at Kikonda primary school playground in Kabwoya Sub-county, Kikuube District. (Image: Gad Asaba)

Following the unprecedented destruction of the forest cover that is home to especially the endemic chimpanzees in Kikuube District, the Kabwoya Sub-county Local Government has joined partners in efforts to salvage the wood and chimpanzees from extinction.

Mr Francis Twesige Mukooto, the Kabwoya Sub-county Chairman, reveals that the local government plans to earmark funds for the cause in their financial year budget to propel a tree planting campaign at home level.

He says the trees will relatively substitute the destroyed woodland with intent to fill those corridors and create a habitat purposely for chimpanzees to stave off human-wildlife conflict that has often times resulted in death and injuries of both chimpanzees and human beings and crop destruction.

The chairman says in the campaign, the sub-county local government will strictly dwell on planting indigenous trees that provide a good canopy and ground vegetative growth cover highly enjoyed by the chimpanzees and best in environmental enhancement.

The politician adds that pursuant to the goal, such an initiative will create a tourism scenario eventually being a source of income to the government as the fight to preserve the natural world to prevent it from collapsing as a result of human activities like unsustainable agriculture and deforestation continues.

Mr Mukooto says the sub-county local government will support and empower communities more to protect chimpanzees through a number of engagements like the contemporary approach of Ekiteera Cup Tournament used as a conduit to educate and sensitise them about the beauty of protecting the environment in general and chimpanzees in particular.

Audio: Mukooto on chimpanzee protection (RR & English)

Mr Tom Tibaleka, the Field Manager for Friends of Chimpanzees in Kagadi district, is concerned that chimpanzee is an endangered species that the youth need to protect vehemently for a variety of issues including better human life, environment and culture that are the most outstanding areas as man and chimpanzees have great a bearing between themselves.

He reminds people of the significance of the existence of chimpanzees for human survival evidenced in the recent development of coronavirus vaccine that was first tested on chimpanzees before being used on human beings.

“As youths, when you see chimpanzees, learn to co-exist with it because it is our brother, it is our sister given that they are the closest animal to man in relationship. According to scientists a chimpanzee is next to man in understanding and therefore, we need to protect them. Remember, when coronavirus hit the world, vaccine development and testing was first conducted on a chimpanzee before it was given to man. This is because a chimpanzee is by the greatest percentage similar to man. If we don’t protect the remaining ones’ we shall medically be affected because more microorganisms are coming up,” he says.

Mr Abitekaniza (white T-shirt), Ms Mutambi (white cardigan), Abakurungu clan football head coach (yellow T-shirt) and players feel the trophy.

Mr Francis Kiva Abitekaniza Adyeri, the Clerk to Council Kikuube district local government, is appreciative of efforts Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) is putting in protecting chimpanzees and their habitat that provide a multifaceted range of answers to environmental problems.

He cites tourism attraction, cultural preservation as a chimpanzee is a totem to some clans, environmental protection, human life observance, carbon sequencing and talent development and promotion as some instances that are enhanced by CCFU efforts in the noble cause.

“As youth, you should not look at playing football only but you should put the aim of the football tournament under consideration and in action as in environmental conservation and chimpanzee protection. We need joint efforts doing this like it is in football matches where we have referees, footballers, coaches and fans participating in a single game,” Mr Abitekaniza says.

Ms Barbra Babweteera Mutambi, the Executive Director CCFU, regrets that the organisation registers five death cases of chimpanzees a year in Bunyoro and Rwenzori regions with Bunyoro being most affected since those animals are living in unprotected areas.

However, she is delighted that people are embracing the campaigns witnessed in the bourgeoning number of private forest plantation developments in the two regions with the owners taking up the challenge of ensuring that chimpanzees are protected from extinction.

Ms Mutambi says the organisation strives to promote and conserve chimpanzees as an endangered species and the environment as its habitat in the two regions through different campaign approaches like dialogues and football matches including Ekiteera and Ekibandu Cup Tournaments in Bunyoro and Rwenzori regions respectively.

Audio: Mutambi on chimpanzee protection (English)

All this as the Abakurungo clan from Kabwoya sub-county in Kikuube district were crowned champions of Ekiteera Cup after beating Abacwezi clan from Muhorro in Kagadi district 5-4 in penalty shoot-outs.

It followed a goalless draw on December 12, 2022 at Kikonda primary school playground in Kabwoya sub-county, Kikuube district in the fourth edition football tournament aimed to promote the protection of endemic chimpanzees and environmental conservation.

The tournament organised by CCFU began on November 25, 2022 with a match between Abaitira clan against Abagimu at the same pitch with the former beating the latter 1-0.

This game took place in Bunyoro region.

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