By: Dr Judy Mann
History was made at the recent Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) Annual General Meeting. For the first time in the 29 year history of the Association, the Chairman will be based out of South Africa. At the Gala Dinner of the AGM Dr Judy Mann, Conservation Strategist at the South African Association of Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) and Chair of PAAZA handed over the reins of the Association to Mr James Musinguzi. Mr Musinguzi is the Executive Director of the Ugandan Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) based in Entebbe in Uganda.
“As an African Association it is critical that we engage more effectively with members beyond the borders of South Africa.’ said Dr Mann. “By having a Chairman based centrally in Uganda we will be able to support members in Africa more effectively. Through this we hope to raise the standards of zoos throughout Africa. However, this does not mean that South African facilities will be neglected. The new Operational Accreditation Standards accepted at the recent AGM will help to raise the standards of local facilities, as compliance with the standards is now a prerequisite of PAAZA membership.”
Mr. Musinguzi is delighted with his appointment. “I am passionate about zoos in Africa for they help to connect people to nature and inspire them for positive conservation action. This appointment comes at a time when we have the operational accreditation that we must all embrace for the ultimate welfare of all the animals in our care. We also need to promote conservation of endangered species and I challenge all facilities under PAAZA to do something about this”
Mr. Musinguzi brings to PAAZA over 12 years of experience at UWEC and has been a member of the PAAZA executive committee for 8 years.
John Werth, Executive Director of PAAZA said “The 29th AGM of PAAZA will be remembered as the event that saw the further transformation in the establishment of PAAZA as a professional regional Association within the global framework which includes WAZA, IZE, IUCN, CITES”.