Communities to earn money from wildlife

Tuesday February 5 2013

Zebras at Lake Mburo NP in Kiruhura District

Zebras at Lake Mburo NP in Kiruhura District. PHOTO BY OTUSHABIRE TIBYANGYE 

By Rajab Mukombozi

Communities around Lake Mburo, Kidepo and Murchison Falls national parks are set to reap more from tourism through wildlife farming and ranching courtesy of the Africa Wildlife Foundation.

The $10 million USAID-funded programme was launched at Lake Mburo National Park last week. The communities will the under memorandum of understanding allow wild animals on their land where tourists will pay directly to them instead of park authorities.

Communities have been at logger heads with park authorities over wild animals straying into their farms.
The programme is expected to improve conservation of Budongo and Karinju forests.

Mr Kaddu Kiwe Sebunya, a senior USAID official, said they want to see communities benefit directly from parks.
He said those with small pieces of land will form groups to bring their land together for viable use.

The programme
“Instead of keeping one or two zebras when you have little land, several people can come together, have much land and keep like over 100 zebras which can attract people to come and see and then that group shares the proceeds according to the land one offered,” Mr Ssebunya said.

He said the programme is a four-year biodiversity conservation effort. He added that this arrangement has been tested in Africa and is benefiting many communities in countries such as Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, DR Congo and Rwanda.

The Lake Mburo National Park Area Conservation Manager, Mr Justus Tusubira, said it is possible for communities to keep wild animals and earn from them directly as it is provided for under Act on Wild Life Use Rights.
Some of the wildlife use rights include: wildlife ranching, wildlife farming, wildlife trade, recreation, education and research.

Mr Tusubira said only people with licences from the Uganda Wildlife Authority would be allowed to keep wildlife.
The Mbarara Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Ms Catherine Kamwiine, welcomed the move.
“Wild animals have been coming to our farms and inconveniencing us but with this arrangement, we are going to benefit,” Ms Kamwiine said.