Uganda Successfully Hosts the 2019 Zoohackathon Competitions at UWEC

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Organized by the United States Mission in Uganda (US Mission), Zoohackathon is a wildlife-based competition set to promote technology solutions, raises awareness, build cross-sector collaboration and empower communities to fight wildlife trafficking. The Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) in Uganda Entebbe was chosen again been chosen to host this year’s Zoohackathon competition that commenced on the 16th and ended on the 17th November 2019.

This was revealed by the UWEC Executive Director; Dr James Musinguzi during a media brief in August this year at the Embassy Plaza in Kampala. He appreciated the grant received from the United States Department of State and it is going to help them work hard to deliver a great event where they are going to come up with problem statements regarding wildlife trafficking and float them out to people to develop solutions. “We are very privileged to be able to partner with the American Embassy to have this event delivered as planned,” said Musingunzi.

The United States is among the top world leaders in the fight against wildlife trafficking. In February 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13773, which highlighted wildlife trafficking as one of four priority areas in the effort to dismantle organized crime syndicates.

The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre did host the same completion last year, it was the first-ever on this African continent and it was very successful. Many people around the world took part in this competition and Uganda’s team was the overall second winners. The American Embassy, therefore, found it fit to select the Uganda Wildlife Education Center popularly known as Entebbe Zoo.

What is Zoohackathon?

Zoohackathon is a computer coding and technology intensive event that brings together developers, designers, project managers, and subject matter experts to create applications, systems, and tools to help reduce demand for trafficked wildlife products.

Zoohackathon (coding to end wildlife trafficking) is one great tool that we can use to fight the issue of wildlife trafficking and promote conservation. The Zoohackathon volunteer participants are hosted by zoos (wildlife conservation areas) and collaborate in teams to develop technology solutions for real wildlife conservation problems within their region.

What happens in the Zoohackathon Competitions?

This competition lasts 48 hours. During this 48-hour competition, various teams gather including; coders, graphic designers, teams of university students, software developers, and wildlife devotees use technology to tackle wildlife conservation problems. They display their works, defend them and at the end, judges choose a winning solution. Safari Uganda or just visit Uganda during this time and enjoy these competitions.

The Zoohackathon Challenge

Wildlife trafficking is one of the world’s most nefarious challenges. Trafficking in poached and living wildlife is decimating populations of iconic animals such as elephants, rhinos, and tigers. More quietly, the world faces the permanent loss of fauna as diverse as pangolins and tortoises. Local communities are losing livelihoods and their natural identities and are becoming literal battlegrounds in a fight for survival. The once occasional link between wildlife trafficking and gun, drug, and human trafficking is now a highway that involves transnational organized criminals. This illegal trade is driven by demand for exotic pets, delicacies, jewellery, decorations, and traditional medicines. Even countries that are not destination markets can play roles as transit routes. The rate of trafficking has spiked over the last few years, and time is against us. The United States and countries around the world are leading international efforts to stop this scourge and bring kingpins to justice. But can we do more to bring new tools and approaches to the table? How can we change attitudes, raise awareness, and enable consumers to make informed choices to support wildlife-based tourism and reduce the demand that fuels this global threat?

Why was Uganda chosen to host the Zoohackathon event?

Christened the pearl of Africa, Uganda is blessed with a lot of diversity ranging from flora, fauna and cultures that attract lots of travellers for Uganda safaris, Uganda cultural tours, Uganda wildlife safaris, Uganda gorilla tours, chimpanzee tours Uganda, Uganda birding safaris, and many more. Uganda is blessed to host over 1,061 bird species, more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas attracting tourists for gorilla safaris Uganda, and it is home to also the world’s longest river, the best African wilderness and a lot more. That’s why it is one of the most sought Africa safari destinations. The number of tourists that come for a Uganda wildlife safari, Uganda gorilla safaris and Uganda bird watching safaris increase annually because of the diverse numbers. On top of that, Uganda is home to endangered species like the African elephant, rhinoceros, chimpanzees, tree-climbing lions, and the elusive shoebill stork.

However, over the past decade, Uganda has become one of the most important transit hubs in the international illegal wildlife trade. Uganda’s diverse wildlife has declined greatly and this is because of the human-wildlife conflicts like poaching and opportunistic killings.

Wildlife trafficking is a threat to wildlife conservation and economic development of the country. Each animal lost is beauty lost and the more you lose then the country will lose being the pearl of Africa.

When did the Zoohackathon event?

Zoohackathon Uganda took place on the 16th -17th November 2019. The event started at 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM each day. This was the second Zoohackathon event on the African continent. The U.S. Mission Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Education Centre were looking forward to having participants bring in their creativity and technological expertise to code to an end in wildlife trafficking and increase Uganda safari tourist numbers. At the end of the Zoohackathon event, teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges who will select those who can deploy their solutions practically.

Where was the Zoohackathon event going to be held?

The event was held at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre formerly known as the Zoo on Plot 56/7 Lugard Avenue in Entebbe.

Uganda is worth conserving because it’s unique and doesn’t let the beauty of our mother nature get lost when you can still do something. Come for the Zoohackathon event and bring your idea forward, you could be the saviour of this country. If you want to take part, please email zoohackathon@state.gov.

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November 18th, 2019|Uganda Safaris|
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