Uganda’s Makerere University has awarded an honorary doctorate degree to Ruth Morris Keesling, an American philanthropist, in recognition of her contribution to the conservation of Mountain Gorillas in Uganda.
Keesling was nominated for the award by the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in acknowledgment of her contribution to the establishment of the department of Wildlife and Animal Resource Management at the University.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of academics at Makerere University Professor Okello Ogwang, says Keesling has made an outstanding contribution at Makerere and other areas of conservation across the East African region.
Since 1983 when Keesling first saw the gorillas as a tourist, she has shown commitment to their conservation and even promoted research that elevated the level of gorillas in Uganda to Mountain Gorillas.
She also established the gorilla veterinary clinic in 1986 and has since then, spent millions of her own money and also held fundraising drives that attracted more partners, who together have put more effort in saving the gorillas from extinction.
The Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board Stephen Asimwe says the contribution by Keesling in conservation of the mountain gorillas has boosted Uganda’s tourism development.
He said currently, earnings from gorilla permits contribute to more than half of the total earnings from the tourism sector in the country.
He welcomed the award saying it recognizes the great efforts of the lady who dedicated her entire life in conserving wildlife.