The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) was opened in 1952 by the colonial government as a reception center for wild animals that were found as casualties (sick, injured, orphaned or/and confiscated from illegal trade). Under the authority of the Game Department, an animal orphanage was created in 1956, to hand raise the orphaned animals received through the Game Department. With time, this collection became bigger, generating a great interest from the public in the animals. This then prompted the creation and development of a National Zoo in 1962, in which even non-indigenous species like bears and tigers were kept.
Unfortunately, the political turmoil in the 1970’s and inadequate government funding led to serious breakdown of infrastructure and loss of valuable animals. It continued run down until the early 90′s when the government of Uganda recognized the need to set up an institution that would provide leadership in educating Ugandans about the benefits of conserving the country’s biodiversity. A development study was then done by the New York Zoological society, which recommended that the Zoo be transformed into a facility for environmental education and tourism, one of the kingpins of the recovery process that the country was going through.
On May 5, 1994 Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) was born and has since grown to be one of the most respected conservation education institutions in Africa and beyond, for successfully carrying out its mandates to educate Ugandans on the importance of conserving the country’s biodiversity, to rescue and rehabilitate injured, orphaned and/or confiscated wildlife and to breed endangered wildlife species in captivity with an aim of re-introducing them back in the wild.
UWEC is under the umbrella of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and is recognized as a true success story and model institution for others to follow. The centre’s strategic location on the shores of Lake Victoria, its rich biodiversity consisting of birds, butterflies and other wildlife species makes it an attractive venue for education and tourism for leisure.