WWF Applauds Community Efforts to Save the Chimpanzee
The Association was founded by people who belong to the Batangyi clan whose totem is a chimpanzee culturally mandated to protect these animal species.
This being a unique and sustainable opportunity of achieving conservation goals through a community/cultural approach, was soon identified and supported by WWF to strengthen these commendable efforts after all local people are the best stewards of the nature around them therefore empowering them to increase their participation in decision making increases ownership and yields better results .
Chimpanzees are among the threatened species in Uganda and globally with some of the reasons for the decline in numbers being poaching and habitat destruction. Another threat to their existence is human-wildlife conflict as these animals often cross into park neighboring farm land and raid crops standing a risk of being attacked by the landowners.
To tackle these issues, WWF has supported KICHIDA to develop a sensitization and awareness program to help the rest of the community appreciate the benefits of conservation, promoted garlic growing as a buffer crop along the park boundary since it is unpalatable to chimpanzees and is a high value crop which can contribute to livelihood improvement.
To enhance the welfare of these primates, WWF has commissioned regular joint monitoring of the habitat identifying and reporting any illegal activities and removing any animal traps.
This activity is jointly done by the KICHIDA members and Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Julius Kaganda, the Association chairperson is pleased with the successes achieved so far and is hopeful for the future, “much to our pleasure, we have seen some very notorious poachers denounce the vice. The number of the Association members has also grown rapidly from 63 to 116 in a span of just over a year. These numbers are likely to keep growing as we extend our sensitisation reach”
To further enhance the community appreciation of nature, WWF is supporting the Association open a chimpanzee trail that will be availed for unhabituated chimpanzee niche tourism. Attractions along this trail will also include birding, scenery and nature walks. This fusion of nature and culture approach contributes to tourism diversification in Rwenzori, helps to improve the livelihood of the local communities and is an ideal avenue for conservation through community engagement.