One of our own, Dr. Simon Nampindo, the Country Director, Wildlife Conservation Society, Uganda program has been recognized for his research work that has informed management and policy decisions for sustainable conservation and development of wildlife resources in Uganda 2019.
“I am greatly humbled; this was a collective effort. I therefore acknowledge the contribution of everyone in WCS for their support,” Nampindo said.
The chief guest, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda presented the award to Dr. Simon on Sunday March 3rd 2019, during celebrations to mark World Wildlife Day 2019 held at Boma Grounds in Arua district. This years’ event run under the theme: ‘Humans living in harmony with wildlife’.
While the UN World Wildlife Day 2019 run under the theme 'Life below water: for people and planet,’ Uganda focused on an issue closer to home, ‘human-wildlife conflict(HWC)’, that speaks to the current main challenge impacting wildlife in the Country. Last year 2018, a pride of lions was poisoned and killed by communities residing near Hamukungu fishing village in Kasese district; and more wildlife killings continue to go unrecorded everyday near protected areas across the country.
The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities in partnership with other government agencies and non-government organisations organised various activities for the week, including a conservation conference led by Nature Uganda at which WCS staff Sam Ayebare, the Analyst & Oil Projects Manager and Geoffrey Mwedde, the IWT and Wildlife Trafficking Projects Manager presented two papers under the topics: ‘Analysis and Prognosis of the Intricacy of Human-Wildlife Conflict Management’ and ‘Impacts of climate Change, Land-use change and Industrial Development on the long-term changes in Wildlife Behavior in the Greater Virunga Landscapes’ . Other activities included a wildlife marathon by Uganda Wildlife Authority on 24th February 2019 in which WCS staff took part and numerous school quizzes. The activities were aimed at raising awareness about Human-Wildlife Conflict and setting the agenda for debate to devise ways of tackling it.
Arua the host district that once boasted of the biggest hard of rhinos today has none following the killing of the last rhino in 1986. Human–wildlife conflict (HWC) has a history that is as old as human civilization; yet the phenomenon poses a serious environmental challenge for communities adjacent to parks in Uganda. “Due to the increasing conflict between wildlife and humans, rhinos were hunted down to extinction,” said the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Spokesperson, Bashir Hangi. He added that, “To see rhinos in Uganda, one has to go to the wildlife Sanctuary-Uganda Wildlife Education Centre(UWEC) in Entebbe, the Ziwa Rhino Camp in Nakasongola district or subscribe to the National Geographic TV Channel. It is therefore imperative that everyone makes the initiative to conserve what is left of these species,” he added.
Estimated at 45,71 million (2019), Uganda’s population has continued to grow at a rate of 3.3 percent annually over the last three to four (3-4) decades. This increase has augmented people’s encroachment on forests, wetlands and protected areas as they search for land to cultivate, settlement in as well as other resources such as medicinal herbs, firewood and bush meat among others. Consequently, a big chunk of wildlife habitats has been lost and will continue to dwindle as wildlife and humans are forces to share the limited available resources and wildlife is forced to invade people’s kraals and gardens in search for food.
For as long as human population continues to increase and other forms of land use remain economically highly competitive with no deliberate strategy designed to address these two major issues, HWC will continue to be a threat to wildlife conservation in Uganda. Since wildlife species will remain wild and their behaviour will not change, there is need to follow the evolutionary trajectory.
Last year 2018, Wildlife Conservation society (WCS) won the award for its contribution to sustainable management of protected areas.