securing A FUTURE FOR WILDLIFE
The Kasese Wildlife Conservation Awareness program benefits both wildlife and humans in the Kasese District of Uganda. Asaba Mukobi, originally from Uganda, and his wife, Kimberly, started this program due to the lack of information available to local people about wildlife. Since 2002, with the help of the Columbus Zoo, Oregon Zoo, and individual supporters, much has been accomplished. We received non-profit status in 2009. As Executive Director, Asaba works closely with the KWCAO Board in the United States and the 13-member team of Field Coordinators in Uganda.
Since 2002, KWCAO field coordinators have given wildlife conservation presentations and materials to more than 500 schools resulting in more than 525,000 students learning about their native wildlife and the necessity of conservation practices. Our Field Trip Program takes it a step further by taking hundreds of school children and their teachers to Queen Elizabeth National Park to experience wildlife up close and personal for the very first time. We also have a Wildlife Conservation Resource Center stock full of videos, books, and educational materials. The Center is free and open to the public. Field Coordinators volunteer their time and many of them work for the Kasese District Education Department.
Mission & Goals
Create wildlife awareness and conservation in schoolchildren and their communities in the Kasese District of Uganda.
Through classroom presentations and outreach programs to communities in the Kasese district, KWCAO continued to meet its mission and goals this past year by:
Giving students fundamental knowledge about native wildlife and wildlife conservation through educational presentations and materials.
- Helping students and community members identify ways they can join wildlife clubs or even establish their own, either at school or at home.
- Helping students discover new ways to look at wildlife other than the local traditional ways (i.e. a source of meat, crop destroyers, local medicine, a source of income through poaching, trade, etc.)
- Training educators to implement conservation programs in schools and communities.
- Developing and implementing several wildlife clubs within the geographic region.
- Putting together several traveling suitcases full of educational wildlife props and supplies that are shared among participating schools and communities.
- Educating national park neighboring communities about the value of protected areas.
KWCAO’s vision is for a future where wildlife is protected in the Kasese District and beyond. To realize this vision, we teach children to yearn for the beautiful flora and fauna of Uganda. Experience and education are the primary tools to create this yearning.
We envision a future where there is an appreciation for the value of local wildlife, which are some of the most endangered species in our world.
The Kasese Wildlife Conservation Awareness Organization is a non-profit making project established in 2002 to create Wildlife Conservation Awareness among school children and communities who live near Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori National Parks in Western Uganda. Since its inception over 500 schools have been given wildlife presentations and materials that have helped in the conservation efforts of the valuable fauna and flora resources. Wildlife education is relatively new in the Kasese District (western Uganda).
It is only through the Kasese Wildlife Conservation Awareness Organization that painstaking efforts are being made to integrate wildlife issues into the school curriculum. We strongly believe that the survival of the people and communities in western Uganda will continue to depend on the sound management of the environment and natural resources. Therefore, there is a vital need to expand public awareness of the wildlife issues for sustainable development for the future.
Schoolchildren of Kasese
Many of the schoolchildren have never had the opportunity to learn about the incredible variety of wildlife living within their very own country. Traditionally, animals are viewed merely as a source of meat or income or as crop destroyers. KWCAO teaches children the importance of protecting wildlife and their habitats. We developed a set of 26 trading cards with information about each animal to use as a visual aid.
Each child is given a card and after learning the information, they trade with others until they learn about every animal in the set. Five years after giving the first presentation, KWCAO returned to the school and asked if any of the children still had a card. Anyone who still had one would receive ten more. Every child in the room held up a card. The impression left by a presentation lasting only a few hours has stuck with these children for years.
Based on positive student, teacher, and community response to KWCAO visits to Kasese District schools, there is a growing District-wide demand for additional information and resources to support wildlife conservation efforts on a local level. Since our founding in 2002, KWCAO has given wildlife conservation presentations to more than 500 schools out of the nearly 700 in the District, reaching over 525,000 students. We’ve also taken more than 3,200 students on field trips to Queen Elizabeth National Park to experience the beauty of wildlife up close and in person, most for the very first time in their lives!
Wildlife Presentations Given
Presentations are interactive and focus on the benefits of conservative wildlife.
KWCAO is an all-volunteer-based organization, including the board members and field educators. Uganda volunteers receive a small stipend to cover their personal transportation and meals.
We are thankful for the efforts and contributions of many people who helped make KWCAO what it is today and allowed us to reach more than 500 of the nearly 700 schools in the District.
Students Taken on Field Trips
Children connect with nature on a personal level during field trips to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Trees are planted in schools and communities to help restore the land.
Students receive wildlife presentations at their schools thanks to our supporters' generosity. All funding comes from individual donations and grants.
Educators are trained to give conservation presentations and share their appreciation for wildlife.
KWCAO was founded in 2002 and received non-profit status in 2009.
KWCAO Officers and Board – all volunteers
Board Members in the United States
- Asaba Mukobi, Co-Founder and President
- Alice Stuckey, Treasurer
- Michael Illig, Director
- Rick Horton, Director
- Kimberly Mukobi, Co-Founder and Director
- Joy Shamsa, Director
Program Manager in Uganda
- Nicholas Muhindo
Volunteer Wildlife Resource Center Manager
- Ajuna Alice
Conservation Field Coordinators in Uganda
- Musa Kibaba, Field Coordinator
- Tembo Chris, Field Coordinator
- Baguma, Field Coordinator
Board Members in Uganda
- Muliwabwo Elisha, Chairman
- Bacwa Jolly, Vice Chairman
- Rev. Nyabutundu, Secretary
- Dr. Kamara Cyril, Treasurer
- C.K. Kisembo, Publicity Secretary
- Margaret Komuruti, Director
- Baluka Hassan, Director
- Migando Oliver, Director
Advisors in Uganda
- Masereka M. David, Advisor
- Mukaruziga J. Teopista, Advisor
- Police Apuuli Dorothy, Advisor
Asaba Mukobi grew up in the Kasese District of Uganda, with first-hand knowledge of the need for wildlife conservation in his native land. But local residents lacked the information necessary to fully understand this critical issue. In his twenties, Asaba gained early career experience working with chimpanzees and other native Ugandan species for the Jane Goodall Institute Insinga Island project. After moving to the United States in 1997, he joined the Columbus Zoo as an animal keeper. Asaba maintained a strong connection with Kasese residents and family members. In 2002, he and his wife, Kimberly, came up with the idea for the Kasese Wildlife Conservation Awareness Organization. With an initial grant from the Columbus Zoo and subsequent grants from the Oregon Zoo, he made several trips to Uganda with suitcases full of colorful and informational wildlife trading cards designed by employees at the Columbus Zoo. Asaba visited schools throughout the District, presented wildlife education programs, and handed out free trading cards to thousands of students. The cards became cherished possessions and led Asaba to establish nonprofit status for the Kasese Wildlife Conservation Awareness Organization (KWCAO) in 2009. As Executive Director, Asaba works closely with the KWCAO Board and the 13-member team of Field Coordinators in Uganda.
Alice Stuckey currently works as an Administrative Specialist with Oregon Zoo’s Facilities Management Division and has a lifelong passion for wildlife conservation. She has served on KWCAO’s board since 2003. Alice has visited KWCAO operations in Africa and considers the trip as one of her most cherished experiences: “Working with KWCAO gives me the opportunity to combine my years of non-profit management with my love of East Africa. I believe education is the bedrock of any society and I am thrilled to have a way to influence conservation education in a country as beautiful as Uganda.”
Michael Illig has been in the professional animal field for over 35 years and has worked at three different zoos. As a keeper, he worked with a wide variety of animals with a special focus on native to Africa and North America. In his current role of Animal Curator at the Oregon Zoo, Michael’s responsibilities include oversight of the bird collection, and endangered species breeding programs for the California Condor, several species of native butterflies, and the Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit. Michael has been an active national and chapter member of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) and has received national recognition for his excellence in animal care and leadership of the Portland AAZK chapter’s Bowling for Rhinos fundraising efforts. Michael has proudly served on the KWCAO board of directors since 2003.
Rick Horton grew up in suburban Connecticut surrounded by creatures of all shapes and styles. His extensive non-profit sector experience includes work as an animal keeper, wildlife rehabilitator, and education program coordinator – in addition to spending the past 25-years as a fundraising professional in Portland, Oregon. As Grants Manager for the Oregon Zoo Foundation, Rick led efforts to secure more than $8 million in support of education, conservation, and exhibition programs. An active member of the Grant Professionals Association, he teaches grantsmanship classes and workshops in the Portland area and serves as a federal grant reviewer. He also works part-time as a Development Manager for Adaptive Sports Northwest. Rick’s passion for wildlife conservation through education and his fundraising experience, led him to join the KWCAO board in 2004.
Kimberly Mukobi is an instructor in the University Studies Department at Portland State University. She teaches the Grantwriting for Animals Senior Capstone courses, in which students combine service and learning to write proposals for community partners working in the animal welfare and wildlife conservation sectors. Kimberly has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master of Science degree in Experimental Psychology, focusing on animal cognition and ethology. Her work with chimpanzees includes a variety of captive and wild settings and encompasses everything from sign language and nonverbal communication to mathematical and other cognitive tasks with chimps who worked on some of the first touch screen computers. In the late ‘90s, she volunteered for the Jane Goodall Institute and Uganda National Parks with the Isigna Island Project, one of the very first island sanctuaries to help young chimpanzee survivors of the international poaching trade. While there, she was inspired by the people of Uganda and realized that saving chimpanzees and their habitats depends on the understanding and support of local communities. This became her inspiration to help found KWCAO in 2002.
Joy Shamsa is an Adjunct Professor of Communication Studies. She holds a M.S. in Conflict Resolution and a B.A. in Communication Studies. Joy is the Vice President of Imagine Training & Consulting, a company offering public speaking training and consulting. She is a certified Health Coach and is a candidate of Yoga Teaching Certification. Joy is launching a new venture, Namaste Joy, educating and empowering people about sustainable health & wellness lifestyles. Her work is rooted in compassion, empathy, empowering others, and building community. Growing up Joy’s family had a revolving door of animals from snakes to tarantulas to stray cats and dogs; everyone was welcome in their home. She learned to appreciate, respect, and value all animals and our planet. Joy recognizes that communication is a game-changer and works to help others find their voice so they can change the world. She understands that it is more vital now than ever to use our voices to educate, support, empower and drive positive constructive social change so we can thrive, coexist harmoniously and sustainably on our beautiful planet.
A Letter from the Board