The effectiveness of Problem Animal Mitigation interventions around Karangara and Bujengwe Parishes, Kanungu District, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, SW Uganda
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Around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP), wild animals such as gorillas, elephants, baboons and bush pigs occasionally come out of the forest to into settlements to raid crops and but also end up harming human beings. This leads to negative attitudes within communities towards the Park and animals therein. Around 2000, in Karangara and Bujengwe parishes, interventions to reduce crop raiding by the wild animals were introduced by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and other development agencies (CARE, BMCT, IGCP). The main interventions were the Mauritius thorn hedge (Akampurira 2011; CARE et al. 2003), Tea growing and Baboon traps. Despite these interventions, local communities continued to experience crop losses attributed to raids from the park due to the ineffectiveness of the interventions. Previous studies have shown that the ineffectiveness of the Mauritius hedge is mainly a result of poor maintenance and management (Akampurira 2011; Akampurira, Bitariho, and Mugerwa 2015; Babaasa, Akampurira, and Bitariho 2013; Kalpers et al. 2010; Masiga, Biryahwaho, and Akampurira 2011). Local communities consider most of these interventions as time demanding and labour intensive activities that they can’t sustain without incentives or financial support (Akampurira 2011; Masiga, Biryahwaho, and Akampurira 2011). The major goal for this study was to empirically assess the effectiveness of the interventions in Karangara and Bujengwe parishes by combining a quantitative and qualitative approach. To achieve this the study interviewed 90 homesteads (farmers) on the effectiveness of available problem-animal management interventions using semi-structured questionnaires. Furthermore, data on 583 and 5 crop raiding events was collected in standardized plots. Results show crop raiding by the wild animals is still prevalent in the study area and that millet was most affected by crop raiding animals (26.10%), followed by beans (18.39%) and maize (14.15%). There was no significant difference (P>0.05) between species the local people perceived to raid crops most and the study observations on the most raided crops. In both cases baboons were identified as the most crop raiding and destructive species. Most of the crops were raided at their mature (60%) and medium (30%) stages of growth. Guarding was the most trusted and most used intervention against crop raiding in this study. This observation is not unique and has been recorded by other studies. The dependence of local communities on guarding can be attributed to the failure of the interventions introduced by the development agencies such as the Mauritius thorn hedge to offer protection against crop raiding. The Mauritius thorn in its current state cannot stem/reduce crop raiding by the wild animals. Most of the hedge that was planted died out and there exists only few patches of the intact thick hedge of the plant to stem/reduce crop raiding. The study identified that all interventions used in Karangara and Bujengwe were not perfect and had shortfalls. However, we also observed that the interventions the local people improvised for themselves such as guarding were considered more effective and were more trusted even when they took up a lot of people’s time. This suggests that local communities are more inclined to actively engage in mitigation efforts if they have a hand in the design and approach. The study recommends that farmers should be realistically involved in the process of solving the conflict by taking responsibility for the problem. Such an approach is likely to be more successful, and more sustainable in the long term, than interventions that are dependent on external funding. These interventions need to be within the financial and technological capacities of the people implementing them, if they are to provide long-term solutions.
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