UWA Attributes ‘Reduced Poaching’ to WWF Interventions around Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Posted on August, 30 2021

According to the Senior Warden Rwenzori Mountains National Park (RMNP), James Okware, there has been a drastic reduction in the number of poaching cases reported in the park within the last two years.
This is attributed to WWF livelihood improvement projects and awareness campaigns that have provided alternative food and livelihood sources but also led the community to appreciate the value of nature.  

Without disclosing the exact difference in numbers of cases of poaching recorded annually, Okware stated that there is a great improvement and positive response from the communities towards the campaign to put poaching to an end.

Uganda Wildlife Authority in addition to the WWF interventions is also rolling out   revenue sharing where communities adjacent to the park have been able to start up income generating activities thus appreciating the relevance of the park.

“We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with different groups including the Ex-poachers’ groups so that there is legal and regulated access and utilization of the resources from the park,” Okware noted.

Under the Rwenzori-Hempel project, WWF in partnership with UWA is engaging eight groups around Rwenzori Mountains National Park (RMNP) in livelihood improvement interventions and has distributed 220 bee-hives for apiary promotion, 100 rabbits and 3500 fish fries to feed in the ponds.

The Rwenzori Hempel Foundation project is also engaging about 500 farmers from communities adjacent to the park into Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) using both indigenous and exotic tree species with consideration of site specificity.

Among the beneficiary groups are; Ihandiro youth group, Kyondo Wildlife Scout’s Youth group, Kisamba Reformed Poacher/Resource group, Bughumba Reformed Poachers, Kisebere Masibwe Reformed Poacher group, Mt. Eden Youth Eco-tourism group, Izahura Youth group and Kagugho Reformed Poacher group.

The members of the associations have been trained in good apiary and fishing practices to improve their harvests, value addition and diversification.

According to the Hempel Project Manager, Daniel Ndizihiwe, the livelihood interventions are a response to the growing levels of poverty around the protected areas that have been linked to increasing incidences of poaching, illegal wildlife trade and illegal resource access and overall environmental degradation.

“With these livelihood interventions under the Hempel project, we are confident that we shall retreat the remaining chronic poachers from the park through boosting their income and they will later appreciate the benefits of conserving the park,” he said.

Happy Alice Natukunda, the Warden in charge of Community Conservation noted that engaging youth and reformed poachers and re-enforcing conservation education and development activities is  helping  communities appreciate conservation while  contributing  to resolving the increasing levels of unemployment amongst the youth.

Earlier this year, WWF mobilized stakeholders around Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area (QECA)- a trans-boundary Conservation Area, surrounded by a densely populated human population in 12 districts of; Kasese, Bunyangabu, Kamwenge, Ibanda, Kitagwenda, Rubirizi, Mitooma, Rukungiri, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kabarole and Kanungu.

The meeting among others established stakeholder platform composed of government, private sector, law enforcement agencies, local communities and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to facilitate the discussions on issues affecting the management of protected areas in Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area (Queen, RMNP, Kyambura and Kigezi wildlife reserves).
WWF Uganda's Senior Accountant, Arthur Muhwezi engaging with the Warden Community Conservation of RMNP, Happy Alice Natukunda during the Hempel Project team monitoring visit.
© Happy Ali