ENTEBBE: The United States Mission in Uganda and the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) have completed the third edition of Zoohackathon in Uganda, a global competition in which teams of coders, scientists, and environmental enthusiasts devise innovative technological solutions to a critical wildlife conservation challenge. The US Mission and UWEC organized this year’s event, which took place from November 12-14 in Entebbe, with support from the Uganda Wildlife Authority and US companies Citibank, Marsh Insurance, Raxio, Samasource, and Simplifi Networks.
Zoohackathon 2021 kicked off with a professional development bootcamp, during which the competition’s 11 teams enhanced their creative problem solving, team building, and presentation skills through workshops led primarily by alumni of the U.S. government’s Mandela Washington Fellows program. The program also included a presentation by Dr. Cynthia Frasier of the Conservation Genetics Department at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.
We thank the Association of Minority Zoo & Aquarium Professionals (AMZAP) for creating and sharing a video highlighting the importance of diversity in zookeeping and conservation. The hackathon itself started Saturday morning, with the 11 teams developing unique technology solutions with mentoring from professional staff at the Wildlife Conservation Society, UWEC, and the event’s technology partners.
“The challenges of human wildlife conflict and zoonotic disease transmission demand unique and creative solutions. The United States is committed to empowering Ugandan youth to develop and implement innovative solutions that empower communities to tackle these problems head on,” Ambassador Natalie E. Brown said. “The Henry Doorly Zoo in my hometown of Omaha is one of America’s leading zoological institutions. I’m thrilled by the opportunity to facilitate a dialogue between the zoo and hackathon participants on the application of technology solutions to global conservation challenges.”
On Sunday, the teams pitched their solutions before a panel of expert judges including representatives from the U.S. Embassy, Simplifi Networks, Makerere University, Conservation through Public Health, and the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities. Congratulations to the winner, team Golden Lions, first runner up, Team Hippopotamus, second runner up, Team Psittacus, and all participants of the 2021 Zoohackathon. Each member of the first-place team received laptops courtesy of Citibank and will share a UGX 3.5 million prize from Samasource; the first runner up team received a UGX 2 million prize; and second runner up team received a UGX 1 million prize. All winning team members will also receive a Mikrotik Access Point, donated by Simplifi Networks.
In addition to cash and prizes for the winners, the first-place team will have their solution entered into a global competition with other regional winners from Zoohackathons around the world. For additional information on the global competition, see http://www.zoohackathon.com/.