EU donates UGX 1.6 billion for wildlife conservation
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Five organizations in Uganda have secured 1.6 billion shillings to boost conservation activities and livelihoods around protected areas.
The funds come from the European Union (EU) and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). They will be made available by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative and the BIOPAMA Action Component (AC), both managed by IUCN.
BIOPAMA, the biodiversity and protected areas management program aims to improve the long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in protected areas and surrounding communities.
In 2020, in response to COVID-19 and the loss of income for many projects in protected areas, IUCN Save Our Species and BIOPAMA AC opened a special call for proposals to mitigate impacts specifically related to the pandemic. .
A range of activities currently being implemented to mitigate impacts include diversifying livelihoods to absorb loss of tourism income, implementing health protocols to protect gorillas, and removing invasive species to secure rhino habitat.
The Environmental Governance Institute (EGI), Conservation through Public Health (CTPH) and Rhino Fund Uganda are implementing these activities in and around Murchison Falls National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The other projects are; Ecological Trends Alliance aimed to combat the persecution of lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, as well as the Snares to Wares initiative.
âThis turns the metal snares pulled from Murchison Falls National Park into sculptures that not only generate alternative income opportunities for local communities, but also shed light on illegal poaching practices,â says IUCN.
The group says that while the challenges facing this sector have been around for a long time, many have been exacerbated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
âBut we’ve also seen a greater appreciation for nature and the importance of conservation. By working with various stakeholders, including local communities, IUCN is convinced that we will develop more resilient ecosystems for the benefit of nature and people, âsaid Luther Anukur, Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.
The EU Delegation in Uganda states that these response activities are designed to address the conservation and protection of wildlife in these very difficult times plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Head of delegation Attilio Pacifici said these actions are also important to preserve the foundation for the future of the country’s beauty, as this is what secures the future of Uganda’s tourism sector.
âProtecting wildlife is protecting us and our lives. It is about preserving the future of our daughters and our sons and guaranteeing them a world in which they can live, âhe said.
The Environmental Governance Institute (EGI), operating in the Murchison Falls belt, will get a quick action grant of 260 million shillings for one year.
In response to this situation, EGI supports them in the diversification and development of alternative livelihoods, through trainings on alternative land use, photography, writing, communication and restoration.
The project is expected to promote the conservation of various endangered species, including elephants, carnivores and primates.
The Public Health Conservation (CTPH) which operates around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park received 442 million shillings for a year, to strengthen health measures to protect mountain gorillas. The park is home to 43% of the world’s 1,063 free-roaming mountain gorillas, and health expects that if COVID-19 were to infect the park’s gorilla population, it could have a devastating impact. The CTPH will ensure the protection of endangered primates by performing extensive and frequent COVID-19 testing on humans and gorillas, and training staff in COVID-19 prevention and gorilla health surveillance.
The project will also help the local community generate alternative sources of income by training farmers in growing and selling organic coffee. It is hoped that the income generated from the sales will reduce the dependence of communities on gorilla habitat to meet basic food and timber needs, limiting human-gorilla contact as much as possible.
Michigan State University’s Snares to Wares initiative targets the larger Murchison Falls conservation area in northwestern Uganda. The initiative will receive 311 million shillings aimed at removing and stopping the use of metal snares which are introduced into Murchison Falls National Park and anchored to trees through popular hunting trails.
Although the intended targets of this activity are generally antelopes, metal snares do not discriminate and capture both target and non-target species. This project will also provide artistic training to the local community to transform the threads of the snares into sculptures that will be sold to generate income.
Another grant of 397 million shillings over 2 years will go to the Ecological Trends Alliance (ETA), to prevent the persecution of lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Reports from the Uganda Wildlife Authority indicate that the lion population in Uganda is deteriorating due to human-lion conflict in and around protected areas, particularly Queen Elizabeth National Park.
ETA aims to reduce the number of cattle depredations by lions and persecuted lions in the four villages of the enclave.
In addition, by involving the local community, the objective is to strengthen the relationship between the local communities and the Protected Area.
The program also provided Rhino Fund Uganda with a 221 million shillings rapid response grant to, among other things, restore a biodiversity management program at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The program has been suspended due to Covid-19.
It aims to improve white rhino habitat through brush clearing and management of invasive species that allow the suppressed grasses to thrive. The success of the program to date shows that it will allow other species of wildlife and birds to use the improved habitat, thereby increasing biodiversity.