Inception Workshop for the Herps Project held

The Inception Workshop for the project “Training a cohort of herpetologists to increase data knowledge in Uganda – and build capacity for baseline Herpetology surveys in key ecosystems of East Africa” project, a.k.a Herps project was organised by Nature Uganda and held on Monday, April 17th 2023 at Protea Hotel, Kampala.

The project, funded by JRS Biodiversity Foundation, the project aims at increasing the number of the few trained experts/herpetologist from the handful 2-8 Ugandans by training another 10 at Masters of Science level and at least 20 assistants from all those who have keen interest and liking for amphibians and reptiles. The trained students and assistants will be involved in collecting and collating data from field surveys and other available sources to produce up to 50,000 records that are not in public domain.  All records mobilized will help in evaluating biodiversity richness in the project areas, identify, map and promote Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), through identification of Key Herpetofauna Areas (KHAs).

The specific objectives of the project are:

  1. Train a cohort of at least 10 Ugandan students and 20 assistants in herpetological identification and data collection methods.
  2. Collect field records on amphibian and reptilian species from selected eco-regions of Uganda, and enter them in databases on readily accessible portals , such as the National Biodiversity Data Banks (NBDB) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
  3. Generate at least 50,000 records through the research surveys, datamining, collating, vetting, curation, storage and dissemination on web-portals of Uganda’s freshwater biodiversity.
  4. Package and publicize the data in formats to be shared with different stakeholders including, researchers, policy users, communities and the public.

The objective of the inception workshop was to raise awareness about the project and guide Nature Uganda and the Herps Working Group /Project Team on how to achieve the project objectives.

We were honoured to have the Director of JRS Biodiversity Foundation – Dr. Matthew Cassette attending the workshop and brief the attendees on what JRS does. The workshop was attended by a cross-section of stakeholders in Uganda, including Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) and six universities, particularly where Nature Uganda branches are housed, represented by the Branch Coordinators. The founder members of Nature Uganda including Prof. Derek Pomeroy and Prof. Panta Kasoma also graced the occasion. Other stakeholders including Total Energies, Uganda National Roads Authority, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, media; InfoNILE and NewVision, as well as key researchers in herpetology also graced the occasion.