Awareness and attitudes of local communities towards conservation of wild animals outside East Madi Wildlife Reserve
East Madi Wildlife Reserve (EMWR) is a relatively isolated Protected Area (PA) surrounded by dense human population. The persistence of such a PA depends very much on the nature of the relationship between its management and the surrounding community. This study aimed to assess the level of awareness and attitudes of local communities neighbouring EMWR in Northern Uganda. It was hypothesized that (i) the benefits got from wild animals in this area will make the surrounding community to support wild animal management (ii) awareness about the importance of wild animals and related policy had created positive attitudes towards wild animal conservation and (iii) local community attitudes towards the different management options were the same. Twelve villages neighbouring the Reserve were chosen where 280 household heads and five district resource persons were interviewed. In addition, four focus group discussions were held with 80 participants in total. Results shows a significant association between age and level of awareness (r=0.6425; P=0.028) and education and the level of awareness (r=0.6386; P=0.042). Two hundred seventy three out of two hundred eighty (99%) of the respondents were engaged in commercial hunting. Although 82% of the respondents had positive attitudes towards creating awareness on wild animal conservation, 64% and 49% opposed prohibiting hunting for domestic meat supply and for sale respectively. Cross tabulation showed significant variations in the local communities’ attitudes towards wild animal conservation (F = 3.35; P = 0.038). Their attitudes were not greatly influenced by awareness by costs and benefits derived form the wild animals in the area. The study therefore shows that awareness creation alone is not adequate in influencing attitudes towards wild animal conservation.