On a very rainy Sunday morning last week, I made my way to Chakig Eco Tourism Centre, in the village of Nakoosi, Nakisunga sub county in Mukono district.
I had promised my son and daughters that I would take them to see wild animals at a new ‘zoo’ in the neighborhood. The word ‘zoo’ is running out of vogue, mainly because it is perceived as ‘caging’ of animals. Hence, the need for more hospitable words such as sanctuary, animal centre and the like, are cropping up to indicate a place animals are kept for conservation or education purposes.
In Uganda, the most popular zoo is the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) on the shores of Lake Victoria in Entebbe. The place offers a window to Uganda’s national park at a glance for anyone in the country for a short visit but in need of an experience with animals.
Now, the government of Uganda is opening up such opportunities to public-private partnerships, in different regions, to give a chance to Ugandans and visitors in those places to see animals that have become a rarity since population growth started rising and human activities either killed wildlife or forced them to migrate further.
Many people therefore have not seen any of the big five – lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhinos.
The opening of Chakig Eco Tourism Centre in the next couple of weeks is something that going to add a life to uneventful village of Nakoosi, with small-scale farms and a few factories starting to come down from the stressed Mukono-Mbarara industrial area.
Two kilometres off Mukono-Jinja highway, in Ngandu trading centre, is Chakig Eco Tourism Centre. It was formerly known as Nakoosi Eco Lodge. This is the place a new animal sanctuary will be located.
The proprietors of the place have already obtained necessary permissions from the Solicitor General and from tourism agencies such as Uganda Wildlife Authority and UWEC. The construction of the fences and boundaries that keep animals protected, is underway.
However, last weekend, there was something special.
A Wildlife and Zoo expo 2019 was organised for the second time, a warm up to what is going to characterize this place, which has been famous for serene accommodation, naturally served food, medicinal plants, birding and forest walks.
It is this experience I took my children to enjoy. However, children from schools around and far, had enjoyed that experience since Friday.
The organisers of the event, including Mr Paul Korinaako and Mr Bernard Rugambwa, the objective was two-fold: (1) Elevate the profile of wildlife conservation in Uganda, with emphasis on the cultural and economic importance, promoting Uganda’s national parks and the need to protect the country’s biodiversity. (2) Instill a strong sense of pride in Uganda’s natural wildlife heritage and fuel the desire to protect it.
This event ran from 6th– 9th June 2019 as a collaborative event between Chakig Eco Tourism Centre (CETC) and Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center (UWEC) in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the leading agencies in conservation efforts in Uganda.
After this successful event, CETC can now confidently host many different wildlife species as key attractions in their animal sanctuary, the first of its kind in Mukono district local government.
The Mayor of Mukono Municipality Mr George Fred Kagimu, lauded the centre as a ‘gem’ in the district as he wants to see more traffic of tourists coming towards Mukono town. The mayor also praised the business model of Chakig which is family organization with wings spread into Kenya and Tanzania.
The centre is going to provide the local communities, families and students from Mukono and neighboring districts an engaging, fun and exciting opportunity to see and learn about Uganda’s wildlife and holistic ecosystems in which they live, eat, play, and walk.
No wonder, after I brought my children to this centre, and they saw the ostrich, a python, monkey, leopard, lion among others, they had guts to crown the “most wonderful dad”. Of course my children would find their dad “wonderful” but, happy children would shout it on top of the mountain after the “chakig experience”.