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Human-Wildlife Conflict - A Conservationist's Nightmare

By Mr. Genesis Okello - Livelihood and Environment - Ecological Trends Alliance

The conflict starts right from the term Human Wildlife Conflict or Conflict of Human and wildlife coexistence or conflict of people over wildlife, the nightmare of a conservationist starts here. Human-wildlife conflict occurs when the needs and behaviour of wildlife impact negatively on the goals of humans or when the goals of humans negatively impact the needs of wildlife.

Conflicts between people over wildlife are widespread and damaging to both the wildlife and people involved. Such issues are often termed human–wildlife conflicts. Scholars have argued that this term is misleading and may exacerbate the problems and hinder resolution. Some scholars suggest that we should distinguish between human–wildlife impacts and human–human conflicts and be explicit about the different interests involved in conflict. Those representing conservation interests should not only seek technical solutions to deal with the impacts but also consider their role and objectives, and focus on strategies likely to deliver long-term solutions for the benefit of biodiversity and the people involved.

The complexity of the issue is that it is wide spread and practically unmanageable by an institution. It is a national disaster and hence of national interest and has to be managed by every citizen of Uganda. However, the citizens have put all their trust in Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to manage such conflicts. These conflicts may result when wildlife damage crops, injure or kill domestic animals, threaten or kill people. Or when humans invade wildlife teritories for various resources including water, pasture, food and wood energy amongs others.

With the increase in some wildlife populations in response to protection, human–wildlife conflicts also have increased. In the past, rural residents, especially agricultural producers, and forestry owners bore the brunt of wildlife damage. In many cases, communities living in close proximity to wildlife are often times the ones who experience costs form human-wildlife conflict. But it should also be noted that whereever willdlife exist there is bound to be conflict, the only diference is the frequency, extent of area damaged and the resultant impact from the vice.

The time of the raids depends on the species of animal involved and the season of the year. Most raids occur in the dry season when there is food scarcity in the protected areas and when the crops in farms bordering the Protected Areas are ready for harvest but overall, raid generally occurs all the year around and the intensity seem to be on the rise. Almost all species are problematic but the elephants, hippopotamus, buffalos and the vermin (Bush pig, Vervet monkeys and Olive Baboons) lead in causing damages to crops while the lions are the most talked about amongst carnivores and depredation. The development projects in and around Protected Areas have been pointed as one of the drivers to HWC increase. Recently, the discovery of oil in protected areas in Uganda has caused a rush for land near protected areas. There is also an increase in population especially in places that formally was unsettled and acted as buffers. There is also increase in agricultural activities around these protected areas. Huge commercial crop farms have been established and many ranches have sprouted around the Parks.

The introduction of compensation for wildlife induced damage in communities outside the Protected Area is a good gesture and timely. But the implementation of this law has to be transparent otherwise it’s bound to fail and the nightmare will remain unsettled.

Mr. Genesis Okello

 Livelihood and Environment - Ecological Trends Alliance

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