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Uganda’s sole rhino sanctuary elects new leadership

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Yesterday saw the Annual General Meeting of Rhino Fund Uganda take place at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, bringing together both old and recently-recruited new members of the fund for the annual general meeting.

With a quorum reached at the appointed time, the meeting went ahead to conduct business, approve the audited accounts of the past years, and most significantly, approve the new RFU Constitution, which was ably prepared, pro bono for that matter, by one of Kampala’s top law firms, Shonubi Musoke and Company, effectively bringing the Rhino Fund into the 21st century and into compliance with NGO legislation. Changes were made to have the two public institutions represented on the Rhino Fund board – the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage and the Uganda Wildlife Authority – turned into ex-officio board members.

A detailed report by Executive Director Angie Genade then brought in particular the new members of RFU up to speed, outlining an agenda for the coming year.

It was then the turn of the outgoing chairman to conduct the election of new office bearers before delivering his final address and formally installing his successor.

Elected unopposed as Chairman of the Board was Bill Pelser, CEO of Saracen Security Uganda, along with Vice Chairman Abram Sagal Emong, who was equally elected unopposed. Saracen Uganda is one of the country’s and Africa’s top private security firms while Abram is the Commissioner of Police/Interpol and Head of the Great Lakes Region/IGAD desk, both of them deeply committed conservationists and sure to bring their expertise to bear in meeting the safety and security challenges for the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

Elections were then held for the three open positions of ordinary board members. In a tight contest, Jacob Manyindo, Ian Duncan, and Imogen Crawford took their seats on the new board, injecting added expertise and standing for RFU’s top organization.

Imogen Crawford is the Biodiversity Coordinator of BWS International on behalf of TOTAL E&P Uganda; Ian Duncan the General Manager of the Sheraton Kampala Hotel – upholding a long tradition of having one of the city’s leading hotels represented on the board; and last but not least, Jacob Manyindo, who is a trained biologist and environmentalist known for his work at the Uganda Wildlife Society as an ardent advocate to protect Uganda’s natural resources, environment, and biodiversity.

Outgoing Chairman Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, following a second stint at the top of RFU, this time as Acting Chairman, following his first term from 2001-2008, during which the sanctuary was created and the first rhinos brought into Uganda, recognized the contributions of his outgoing board, in particular of Dr. Richard Lamprey of Flora and Fauna International and of Dirk ten Brink, substantive Chairman who left the country just over a year ago, for their tireless efforts towards wildlife conservation and the rhino breeding program.

Both looking back and looking forward were the accomplishments named alongside the future challenges, in particular to add the Eastern Black Rhino species to the breeding program, upgrade sanctuary security further still, and notably to bring Uganda’s fourth female rhino, kept at UWEC in Entebbe, into the breeding program on Ziwa, as clearly the purpose of bringing her to Uganda was to breed and not to exhibit. Capt. Joe Roy, the owner of the Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch Ltd., was thanked by all present for his consent to allow land use rights for the Rhino Fund to establish the sanctuary free of cost, a massive gesture towards wildlife conservation and the re-introduction of rhinos to Uganda.

In a surprise visit, Founder Chairman Ray Victurine, whose brainchild the Rhino Fund Uganda was when he launched it in the late 1980s, made an appearance at the AGM, commending the work done since those formative days and encouraging the new board to stay the course.

For more details, visit www.rhinofund.org or write to angie@rhinofund.org for information on how to join the fund as a member, make material or financial contributions, or get on the mailing list for regular updates from Uganda’s sole rhino sanctuary.

Source: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa Correspondent

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