University of Manitoba: Linking Manitoba With Gorillas

Oct 6, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell, professor in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, has won a Skål International “green award” for his work in sustainable gorilla tourism in Uganda. 

Campbell took home the trophy for best Educational Program at the tenth annual Skål International Sustainable Development in Tourism Awards recently held in Finland. Founded in 1934, Skål is the largest organization of travel and tourism professionals in the world. 

For years Campbell has worked towards developing sustainable wildlife tourism in Uganda, which is one of only three countries that can offer tourists a chance to spy mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. 

Campbell worked with Uganda’s Makerere University and the Uganda Wildlife Authority to establish a master’s program in wildlife tourism and recreation management. Now, Uganda trains its own people to manage an industry that accounts for 50 per cent of the country’s GDP. Prior to this, most positions were filled by Kenyans, Indians, South Africans and Europeans running programs funded by Western money (read: unsustainable since when the money disappears, so do the programs). 

The program Campbell helped develop trains students to assist community’s in conservation initiatives (Uganda has one of the world’s highest population growth rates so strain on the environment is high), and to help communities launch tourism initiatives (Ugandans have realized that many westerners like birding and Uganda, though a third the size of Manitoba, has over 1,000 bird species). 

The only other countries with mountain gorilla populations are Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since horrors beyond any of Kurtz’s imaginings plague the Congo, that leaves Rwanda and Uganda as tourist destinations.  Rwanda does not yet have a program like this, but Campbell and Makerere University would like to expand into this country, and perhaps, one day, even into the Congo. 

For more information contact Sean Moore, Marketing Communications Office, University of Manitoba, 204-474-7963 ([email protected]).

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