Recently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated its red list databook and unfortunately, the African Elephant showed a big status change of the key species from being vulnerable to now a globally endangered species. This is now more than ever demands more conservation efforts to salvage the species from getting exposed to threats of being poached especially when loitering around the surrounding communities.
Currently, in Uganda, the lack of adequate electric fencing and trenches has resulted in them moving out of the park into surrounding community areas, increasing human-wildlife conflicts and even chances of being poached.
Notably, during one of the EGI field visits in Kiryandongo, three frontline villages, namely Kinagirana, Rwamudopio, and Mpumwe, surrounding the park boundaries often reported the tendency of encountering the Elephants which come out and destroy their crops and trample on their gardens.
Whereas the trenches have been dug at the boundary of the park, communities have reported that the elephants have devised behavioral counter-tactics in that as one enters inside the trench and the other jumps the trench with the help of the one inside the trench.
On 19th April 2021, Environment governance institute (EGI) partnered with Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA) with the support from IUCN Save Our Species and co-funded by European Union in a follow up community engagement in Kigumba sub county, which brought together youth leaders, women groups and local leaders from Kinagirana, Rwamudopyo, Mpumwe and Kibyana and Kigumba 1 parish leaders to discuss the possible ways to harbor the elephants inside the park and discus other challenges that’s affecting their livelihoods
As a result, EGI kick-started its initiative of supplying over 10 beehives to some identified 10 frontline households, which will be erected to create some buffer and further rolled out the distribution of over 250 organic fruit seedlings like mangoes, jackfruits, passion to supplement on their economic gains from crops and also double as an incentive to diversify their livelihoods at the same time co-existing with wildlife.
EGI has pledged to work with UWA to map out these porous grounds through which elephants enter these communities and scale up electric fencing, trench construction, scare craws to mitigate the effect. UWA officials encouraged communities to shift to planting crops that are not eaten by elephants.
Ultimately, communities will benefit from the honey and enjoy the flow of income from fruit selling that will supplement their economic needs and reduce their encroachment in the park and ensure the conservation of the endangered Species
More efforts are needed to creatively conserve and wisely manage these key Endangered species and their habitats, which call for more interventions from other Civil Societies wildlife conservationist, and UWA to scale up establishments of barriers like electric fences to guard animals in the park from coming out and come up with essential approaches that reactivate tourism community livelihoods like supplying them with more beehives for sustainable economic gains that foster conservation and community wildlife co-existence endeavors.
By Ms Pedun Spencer
Program Assistant, Environment Governance Institute Uganda
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save Our Species. its contents are the sole responsibility of Environment Governance Institute and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union