Participation of local communities in the management of human-wildlife conflicts around Kyambura Wildlife Reserve in South Western Uganda
Kamuganga, Sharon Kagwisa
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Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is becoming a critical threat to people‘s lives and livelihoods and wildlife, in particular large mammals such as lions, elephants, baboons, monkeys among others. Numerous case studies of HWC around the globe suggest the need for an in-depth evaluation of the problem and the design of locally driven solutions. In Uganda, HWC has been noted to deepen local community retaliation by killing and poisoning wildlife. As a result, the government through Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), designed several interventions to cub the conflict. However, recent studies show further increases in the conflict, suggesting that the government guidelines were not effective HWC interventions. This study was carried out in a community around Kyambura Wildlife Reserve (KWR) in Rubirizi district. The study assessed locally-driven means through which HWC can be managed, working in line with government guidelines. Specifically, the study assessed (i) community exposures and responses to human-wildlife conflicts, (ii) community attitudes toward KWR, and (iii) levels of local participation in HWC management around KWR. The study used three methods of data collection including household interviews, Focus Group Discussions, and Key Informant Interviews in order to obtain adequate and triangulated information about the topic of study. Data obtained from the field was analysed to reveal the levels of exposure to wildlife attacks in space and time, responses to wildlife attacks by community members, the attitude of the community towards KWR, levels of participation in HWC management, and the motivating factors for participation. From the results, all respondents revealed that they have been experiencing wildlife attacks on people and property. Elephants (93%), baboons (67%), and wild pigs (53%) were the most reported animals that attacked communities, often regularly. Most community members revealed that they responded by guarding their crop gardens, lighting fire, drumming among others. Key informants added that some community members responded by trapping, killing, or poisoning the animals. The majority of the respondents (78%) revealed that they valued the park as a source of firewood, grass, among others. In HWC management, 75% of the respondents revealed that they were involved by UWA, 27% by their initiative, and 13% by conservation NGOs. They indicated that they participated in digging trenches, planting bee hives, clearing land, guarding, participating in meetings to design strategies for managing HWC. Communities‘ participation in HWC management was driven by the need to secure livelihoods, to protect their gardens from animal attacks, and the incentives such as firewood, grass given to participants majorly by UWA. The study has noted wildlife attacks are a big problem to communities, household attitudes of KWR are majorly influenced by the tangible benefits they get from the reserve and not the original reason for which it was created. Residents participate in HWC management through household/community self-initiatives to protect the crops, property, and life from being affected by animals, joint initiatives with park authority and other agencies, and engage in conservation enterprises. The study recommends pursuance of an integrated, actionable, and community-based conflict management approach with reference to elements such as policy, prevention, mitigation, understanding the conflict, response, and monitoring.