WCS’s initiatives to conserve the Landscape
WCS is supporting three main initiatives in this Landscape:
1. Supporting conservation of large carnivores in Murchison Falls National Park: WCS-led research has shown that the lion population is declining in the park. Our project aims to tackle the threats to large carnivores in this park, particularly the lion population. Snaring of wildlife is the main cause of lion mortality in this park and WCS researcher Tutilo Mudumba has been working with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to improve snare detection and patrolling methods and has already significantly increased the numbers of snares collected by rangers as a result.
2. Monitoring the impact of the oil developments in the Landscape: WCS is monitoring oil developments in the Murchison-Semliki Landscape. We provide technical expertise to encourage the oil companies and the Ugandan Government to use best practice in order to minimize the environmental and social impacts of the industry and to offset the residual impacts. We are monitoring the impacts of seismic exploration and drilling of wells in Murchison Falls National Park on large mammals and birds. Our study has shown that drilling causes large mammals such as elephants to move at least 1 km from the drill pads. Given that there may be 30-50 drill pads in the park the impact of these pads is likely to be significant.
3. Murchison-Semliki REDD+ project is situated east of Lake Albert and covers the districts of Hoima, Masindi, Kibale. Kyenjojo. The project aims at stopping deforestation on private land between local and central forest reserves and conserving critical forest corridors. These forest corridors are important for the survival of species such as chimpanzees and other unique Albertine Rift species. WCS and partners, i.e. the Chimp Trust, the Jane Goodall Institute, ECOTRUST and Flora and Fauna International, united in the Northern Albertine Rift Conservation Group (NARCG) are working with small holder farmers, the so-called Private Forest Owners (FPOs). We are improving their lives and adapting them to the negative impact of climate change.
Threats to the conservation of the Landscape
Threats to this landscape include pressures from the growing human population on the natural resources, including immigration from within Uganda and emigration from the DRC to the Landscape in response to the availability of natural resources, lack of law enforcement, and the prospect of employment in the establishing petroleum industry. Poaching of wildlife by snaring is relatively common in Murchison Falls National Park and has maimed and killed many large mammals there.
Exploratory drilling for oil is taking place in the region both within and outside Protected Areas and will lead to the development of an oil industry in the region, given the findings of the exploration so far. This will involve the establishment of drill sites, pipelines, processing stations, oil transportation and a small refinery within the Landscape.
The Murchison-Semuliki Landscape is home to an estimated 3.7 million people who depend on forests for the future expansion of their current farmland. 96,732 ha of forest are privately owned by small-holders and they form essential wildlife corridors
between the public forests. Between 2006 and 2010, 8,367 hectares were cleared each year for agriculture, fuel wood and timber. If nothing is done to halt this deforestation the forests on private land are predicted to be lost by 2020.