Sustainable Vermin Control: Hoima and Masindi Districts of Uganda
UCF collaborated in this project that is in its area of conservation and community wildlife conflict resolution. The project took place in the Hoima and Masindi districts and was jointly undertaken with Budongo Conservation Field Station to trial methods of reducing crop raiding and subsequently raise household income through agricultural productivity. Both UCF and BCFS have previously been working on projects connected with problem animal control.
UCF has been working on projects connected with problem animal control for the last 8 years. BCFS on the other hand has considerable experience in vermin / problem animal control having conducted applied research into the dynamics of crop raiding and hunting in and around Budongo Forest and piloted the live trap project for controlling crop raiding. It initiated a community conservation education programme which led on to a study of the stimulus for hunting, which showed this may be in retaliation for crop raiding.
Crop raiding by baboons, bush pigs, and other wildlife is the biggest source of conflict between rural communities and protected areas (PA) management authorities. This conflict situation is particularly acute in areas of high and/or increasing population density, which is the prevalent situation in and around the protected areas of Hoima and Masindi District. These areas tend to be small islands of biodiversity, with many impoverished people practicing subsistence farming right up to the edge of the forests and the parks. Whenever wildlife destroys crops, any positive attitude the resident community members have towards conservation is compromised. This results in a lack of support for the protection of these forests from the local communities, jeopardizes conservation efforts, and reductions in productivity of the agricultural lands. An undesirable side effect is that children are missing attendance at schools through the necessity to guard the crop areas from problem animals in the daytime.
In Masindi and Hoima districts there are a number of wildlife habitats, which are situated on private or communal land and thus are not accorded the same protection status as central forest reserves. Such unprotected habitats commonly known as forest patches have been converted to other land uses especially agriculture with an aim of reducing crop raiding. In addition some farmers have retaliated by hunting wildlife through the setting of snares and traps in wildlife habitats. This form of non-selective hunting is illegal and threatens the long-term existence of wildlife especially the rare and endangered species. For example about 20% of the chimpanzees in the Sonso community of Budongo have been maimed by snares. Thus the issues surrounding problem animals threatens both the rural livelihoods and the wildlife health and populations in the forests.
A potential solution - this project aspired to achieve the goal of reducing incidences of human-wildlife conflicts through the identification and establishment of effective problem animal control systems. The project set out to identify the many forest patches and those areas affected by crop raiding. It wanted to innovate, develop and implement community based problem animal control and agricultural improvement initiatives through field based trials before encouraging the roll out of successful initiatives across the districts. It was envisaged that the project would establish an integrated sustainable programme with stakeholders (forest edge communities, districts, statutory bodies and private and commercial interests) for strengthening problem animal control effectiveness and further develop community conservation advocacy and education within the periphery communities. This was a 22 month project ending in June 2008.
- Effective vermin control methods will be developed and communities shall be trained in their use as a result of project assistance.
- Improvement in household incomes.
- Forest edge communities shall be supported by the project and shall benefit from new on- and off-farm jobs created as result of project-funded activities.
- Selected biologically important habitats shall be maintained or increased through conservation advocacy and education.
- Central Forest Reserves and Forest Patches shall be under increased protection and sustainable management as a result of project assistance.
- We anticipate an increase in number of children from forest edge communities going to school as a result of effective vermin control and reduced necessity to guard crops.
- Increase in wildlife especially the rare and endangered species through reduction in hunting (snares and traps) in wildlife habitats.
- 3000+ households from 21 village communities worked with the project.
- 200+ jobs were created
- 80 farmers groups are now involved in growing buffer crops for income as well as protection against problem animals.
- Increased household income from marketing of buffer crops
- 37 village vermin control committees set up.
Work related to this project is being continued by Budongo Conservation Field Station.
UCF and its partners are grateful to have received the support of USAid PRIME/West in this project.