Champions of the Earth: a Ugandan veterinarian protecting human and wildlife

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From a young age, Kalema-Zikusoka knew that she wanted to work with animals. This Ugandan doctor has been helping safeguard some of the world’s most extraordinary primates, like mountain gorillas, which are in danger of extinction for more than thirty years.

This year’s Earth Champion for Science and Innovation, Kalema-Zikusoka became the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s first specialist wildlife veterinarian, where she began applying what would be a new approach to working on this area, which focuses on improving people’s quality of life and livelihoods in the villages surrounding the area.

This approach is the foundation of the organization he founded almost 20 years ago: Conservations Through Public Health (Conservation through public health). Through this initiative, the sanitary model he designed has been expanded from villages to protected areas near Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as to two unprotected areas of Mount Elgon National Park. In addition to promoting hygiene and good sanitation practices, the teams also support family planning.

Her work in the interaction between humans and wildlife and her knowledge about the spread of zoonotic diseases (contagions that spread between humans and animals) between the two populations, led her to assume a fundamental role in the response of the Government of Uganda to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read the full story of this animal friend on the UN Environment Program page.

Champions of the earth

  • The UNEP Program Champions of the Earth and Young Champions of the Earth Awards honor individuals, groups and organizations whose actions have a transformative impact on the environment. This award is the highest environmental accolade of the United Nations and recognizes outstanding leaders from governments, civil society and the private sector.
  • The United Nations General Assembly has declared the decade from 2021 to 2030 as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its allies, is designed to prevent, halt and reverse the loss and degradation of ecosystems around the world.
  • Its objective is to bring terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems back to life. As a global call to action, it will gather political support, scientific research and financial tools to exponentially expand restoration.
  • For more information, visit www.decadeonrestoration.org/es.
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