I am excitedly packing for Africa, the lush fertile countries of Uganda and Rwanda to be specific. I have a headlamp and hiking shoes, camera and sunscreen. In goes malaria pills and bug spray, wildlife guides and a sunhat. It is a true honor to co-lead this Oakland Zoo Conservation Expedition to visit the conservation projects that the Oakland Zoo Conservation Fund supports. We have been planning and learning through monthly meetings and workshops since January, and are now ready to go.
Next, I am packing the important things: Thirteen adult participants, full of adventure, compassion and a genuine reverence for wildlife and conservation, and one Oakland Zoo veterinarian co-leader, Dr. Andrea Goodnight. On the packing list are three laptops, two cameras, children’s books, and hats and t-shirts for our guides and friends. The items will be donated to Pearl Eco-Safaris (www.ugandaecosafaris.net), The Kibale Fuel Wood Project (www.newnaturefoundation.org) and the Budongo Snare Removal Project (www.budongo.org).
A primate net will somehow be hauled on board for the Uganda Conservation Wildlife Education Center so they can ensure a safe capture for their rescued wildlife. Three veterinary medicinal formula books will join us as a gift to the Mountain Gorilla Vet Project (www.gorilladoctors.org), as well as an immobilization unit for darting gorillas in need of medical care.
Packed in our bags will be letters of appreciation for the Budongo Snare Removal Team. Thank you notes will also be given to the Women’s Community Action Project who creates the gorgeous Kibale Bead jewelry sold at the Oakland Zoo gift shop, and the Virunga Artisans (www.virungaart.com) artists, whose weavings and carvings are also featured at our gift shop.
To the pastoral community near Queen Elizabeth Park who saved a female leopard from poisoning and assisted lion expert Dr. Ludwig Siefert in the rescue operation, we bring a framed certificate of recognition and appreciation.
Last goes in some stories and songs, and the willingness to share all of ourselves. With full bags, we depart on July 1. We will report back upon return, with much more received than we could ever pack in our bags and offer.
The Oakland Zoo Conservation Expedition is in partnership with Intrepid Travel. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for future Conservation Expedition information, such as Borneo in 2012!