USAID-STAR has continued supporting the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in their Friend-a-Gorilla awareness campaign. After supporting UWA to successfully launch the campaign in September 2009, USAID-STAR introduced UWA to US- based partners, including Mojo House, a leading promotional and marketing firm in Los Angeles, California.Through this effort, Mojo offered to take the Friend-a- Gorilla Campaign to US schools through Key Clubs (with outreach to 220,000 school children) and help develop educational materials for US and Ugandan school settings.

USAID-STAR brought back Simon Curtis, Key Club’s spokesperson on behalf of UWA and Friend-a-Gorilla, and a professional marketing expert from Mojo to gather content for educational materials for use in American and Ugandan School environmental awareness campaigns. This will also include a significant fundraising component for Friend-a-Gorilla in American schools. These products will help American students learn about, and contribute to, the conservation of Uganda’s mountain gorillas.

UWA took advantage of Simon Curtis’ presence to organize a Gorilla-Community Sundowner to promote appreciation of the harmonious relationship between gorillas and the neighboring communities. The Sundowner took place in Buhoma on May 19, 2010 and was attended by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry; State Minister for Tourism Honorable Serapio Rukundo; two UWA Board Members; UWA Executive Director; Bwindi Conservation area Manager; Local leaders from Kisoro, Kabale and Kanungu Districts; and members of Local communities. At the event, communities around the protected area of Buhoma pledged to continue the protection of gorillas and thanked UWA and the government of Uganda for the continued support of communities through the gorilla revenue sharing initiative. USAID-STAR’s efforts have attracted great appreciation from UWA & the Ministry of Tourism as well as media coverage of conservation efforts.

The United States component of the education and fundraising program will be launched in July and is anticipated to generate significant resources for UWA through Friend-a- Gorilla over the coming year.

The Friend a Gorilla Campaign is aimed at increasing awareness of the plight of the mountain gorillas to the global world. You can friend the gorilla online and track the updates from the forest right online. Remember gorilla tourism is the backbone of Uganda’s tourism sector. You can go gorilla trekking in the wild or even friend one of the gorillas listed on the Friend A Gorilla Portal.

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