Makerere University Kampala (MUK) has awarded an honorary doctorate degree to an American Philanthropist, Ruth Morris Keesling for her contributions towards the conservation of the mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Keesling was nominated for the award by the Makerere University Department of Veterinary Medicine in acknowledgment of her contribution to the establishment of the department of Wildlife and Animal resource Management at the University. The mountain gorillas are the biggest attraction in Uganda and have attracted many tourists to who visit the country for gorilla safaris to both Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park.
The Deputy vice chancellor who is in charge of academics at the Makerere University, Professor Okello Ogwang said that Keesling has made an outstanding contribution at Makerere as an academic institution, Uganda as a country in areas of conservation, primates study and scientific study across the East African region. Keesling has shown her commitment to the conservation and even promoted research that led to the identification of the gorillas in Uganda as the mountain Gorillas. Following her research, more has got to be known about these endangered species which has also helped in the protection of the mountain gorillas in the country.
She also established the gorilla veterinary clinic in 1986 and has since then, spent millions of her own money and also held fundraising drives which attracted more partners, who together have put more efforts in saving the mountain gorillas from extinction. The contribution of Keesling in the conservation of the mountain gorillas has boosted Uganda’s tourism development which is largely based on observing the mountain gorillas in the wild. For the past 2 decades, Uganda has received more tourists and is fast becoming one of the best destinations for adventure tourism and primates watching on the continent.
The CEO of Uganda Tourism Board said currently receipts from gorilla tourism, as well as earnings from the gorilla permits, contribute to more than half of the total earnings from the tourism sector in the country. In addition, many people gain from gorilla tourism including tour operators, travel agencies, local communities, transporters and more! Therefore this award recognizes the great efforts of the lady who dedicated her entire life in conserving wildlife. In addition to that, the conservation has as well helped a lot in conserving the endangered mountain gorillas. According to the 2012 Census, the number of mountain gorillas is increasing steadily and credit should be given to all those individuals who have worked in several areas of research and study towards the protection of the endangered giants.
Uganda is an amazing destination in Africa, the best place to see the endangered mountain gorillas in Africa. The country is also blessed with many attractions and some of these include; the chimpanzees , over 1065 bird species, the Source of the Nile River, water bodies including Lake Victoria, mountains such as the Rwenzori Mountains and Mount Elgon, national parks, hills and rocks as well as forests.