Importance of maintaining connectivity
Protected areas in Uganda are becoming islands surrounded by people and agriculture. This is a relatively recent phenomenon and only 50 years ago large mammals such as elephants were able to migrate between many of Uganda’s parks and reserves. Certain species do not occur at high enough density or abundance to maintain a viable population in any protected area in Uganda. These include chimpanzees, gorillas, medium-sized carnivores such as golden cats and jackals, certain birds of prey such as vultures, eagles and forest raptors and also some understorey birds such as Pittas. It is therefore important that corridors linking protected areas are conserved to ensure the populations in different protected areas can maintain some gene flow between them.
Wildlife Conservation Society’s projects to ensure connectivity
WCS has been working in Uganda to ensure that the connectivity between protected areas is conserved where possible:
1.We have been promoting the management of the Greater Virunga Landscape as one coherent conservation landscape. This means that management planning for any single protected area in the landscape includes an aspect of management for movement between protected areas and transboundary collaboration between the three countries that manage the landscape: Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
2.We developed a corridor action plan for the Queen Elizabeth National Park to provide guidance for the management of the corridors that link to five other protected areas and have been working to implement aspects of the plan.
3.We analysed the needs of a suite of species that were thought to require corridors linking the large forest blocks in the Murchison-Semliki Landscape. The analysis identified several corridors between protected areas that require conservation and through our REDD+ project and human livelihoods work in the region we have been working to conserve these corridors. We also surveyed these corridor areas to identify which species are currently using them and found evidence that golden cats, chimpanzees, jackals and several of the forest raptors were moving through them.
4.Our work radio-tracking elephants in Kidepo Valley National Park highlighted the importance of the Karenga Community Conservation Area to the south of the park for this species and we have been promoting their conservation in this area as a result.
WCS continues to promote maintaining the remaining connectivity in Uganda as much of it has been lost now and the remaining fragments are therefore critical.