Take pride in our lions!

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My name is Vincent Opyene, Chief Executive Officer and Founder Natural Resource Conservation Network.  I have spent decades as a warden and a wildlife crime investigator and a prosecutor protecting the majestic lions and leopards  and other wildlife of my home country, Uganda. I have watched lionesses give birth to cubs in the grasslands and watched these cubs grow strong playing, snoozing and learning to hunt on their own. 

Lions are already extinct in 26 countries across Africa, in the same manner in which my totem the rhino got extinct in Uganda and my life’s mission is to prevent that sad fate from striking these creatures whom I have grown to love so deeply. But they are under great threat, and time is running out. 

Just last April, eight cubs and three lionesses died from poisoning, depleting the lion population in Queen Elizabeth National Park. These were very special lions that liked to climb trees and lounge with their paws dangling from the branches. 

We need the Government of Uganda to lead the way in ensuring that wildlife protection is a top national priority and organize everyone – law enforcement, conservationist, communities adjacent to the protected areas, donors – to save the lions. This is the only way we can prevent extinction and allow these prides to revive their numbers and roam free across our land. 

I have spent years fighting to prosecute poachers and wildlife traffickers who intentionally killed lions and leopards or traded in wild animals or their body parts. I have put many behind bars, even when people laughed at me for caring so much about these wild creatures. Its worrying that every month in our operation we find in the illegal trade market lion or leopard skins and parts. Uganda is most preferred by illegal wildlife traffickers because of non-deterrent provision of our laws and systemic corruption in  the wildlife crime law enforcement processes.  

The lions and Leopards are also coming into conflict with herders and villagers who live around the park and trying to protect their cattle from becoming prey. The people are trying to look out for their families and livelihoods. To allow them to protect wildlife better, the community should be guided to engage in enterprises that would permit coexistence between wildlife humans. The bill which is still in Parliament with very good legal provisions therein should be passed to allow Ugandans to be compensated when Lions and Leopards attack their cattle, and reap larger benefits from the tourism revenues that come with conserving our precious wildlife. Revenue sharing scheme if invested and managed by people who have conservation at heart can make a remarkable change in the history of conservation in Uganda.

It’s time for the government and people of Uganda and the region to wake up and take all necessary steps to protect the lions and Leopards, before it’s too late. I am calling on people around the world to unite in protecting the lions and leopards by ensuring that they inhabit this land for many generations to come. Please sign this petition and share it with your friends!