Southwest Uganda is densely populated and the majority of people earn a living through labour-intensive subsistence farming. The low productivity of this way of life has resulted in widespread poverty, and as a result, local people often encroach on the national parks for farmland or trespass to obtain resources such as firewood, threatening the survival of mountain gorillas. By educating people on the need for conservation from a young age they will grow up with an awareness of environmental issues, and will thus behave in an environmentally sensitive manner. In 1975, Wildlife Clubs of Uganda (WCU) was launched as a national NGO and it now has more than 1,000 clubs throughout Uganda. In 2006, the Gorilla Organization joined forces with WCU, implementing a project through which wildlife clubs in schools around the gorilla habitat are established and supported.
The overall objective of the project is to develop an environmental awareness within the communities surrounding Uganda’s national parks and involve young people in conservation efforts. The specific objectives are:
- To establish and support wildlife clubs in at least 100 primary schools and 50 secondary schools in southwest Uganda
- To train teachers as wildlife club leaders through a series of workshops
- To arrange seminars, excursions and competitions for wildlife club members