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Friends of Conservation
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Bukorwe Ridge Elephant Trench, Ishaha, Uganda

Ishasha River Region, in the UNESCO designated Queen Elizabeth National Park, is home to Uganda's largest elephant population and is located in the part of South West Uganda acknowledge to have the highest density of people. Furthermore, both populations are increasing, leading to increased incidences of Elephant/Human Interaction (EHI). In order to mitigate the effects of EHI which can be extremely negative for both elephants and people, the Ugandan Conservation Foundation (UCF) and local partners including the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and local councils have devised a strategy involving the digging of a deep trench intended to separate elephants from village settlements. This trench, built on a traditional elephant migration route is 20 kilometres long, 2m wide by 2m deep, and follows the line of the Bukorwe escarpment ridge. This work has been carried out manually by as equipment is not readily available and has involved a full time work force of over 40 people from the local community, many of whom had been personally affected by elephant crop raiding activity.
Friends of Conservation and partners UCF were keen to support this previously neglected area of Africa and protect both the elephant populations and the livelihoods of the farmers, who operate at subsistence levels. An estimated 74% of the farmers are cultivating land of less than 0.07 hectares. Research by UCF indicates that crop-raiding had reached extremely high levels and as a result the elephant population was increasingly at risk.
We are pleased to report that the trench works are now complete and there's already been a marked reduction in reported elephant crop raiding and as a result a sharp decline in the retailiatory elephant poisoning which had been occurring in some places in the park and the community border. Incidences of both poaching and illegal cattle grazing in the Queen Elizabeth Conservation area are also down significantly and the threat to human life from elephants is seen as dramatically reduced. Whats more, after coming together to create the trench, UCF says the community is beginning to recognise the importance of conservation, particularly as tourism is seen as demanding their crop products and tourism revenue sharing is providing funding for projects. A scheme is also underway to involve poachers in paid park work; helping to give rangers information about potential poaching.

Work still goes on however, to protect a number of small valleys and other low lying areas that have proved unsuitable for the trench, and which are effectively funnelling animals through them.

UCF is currently attempting to identify alternative solutions for these varied areas, although any such plan must accept the limitations imposed by a lack of raw materials, the difficulty of transport, and a minimal amount of equipment. Methods under review include physical barriers, solar fencing, capsicum and sound trip wires, unpalatable crops and guard watchtowers.
Whatever solution is eventually selected however, the project will require additional funding to see it through. To make a donation to this project, click here.

Lake Edward Waterways project – Uganda

The Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area, within Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP)in south-west Uganda is a Biosphere Reserve, containing almost 100 species of mammal and over 600 types of bird. Friends of Conservation supports the work of The Ugandan Conservation Foundation whose mission is to protect endangered wildlife and habitats in this vast habitat.
Queen Elizabeth Park is bordered by Lake Edward. Many wildlife species in the region are at risk from poaching and illegal fishing. Unfortunately, there is a thriving bush meat trade and trafficking in ivory. The common hippopotamus is being poached for its meat, and is now at risk. Once a common sight as it’s name would suggest, it is now on the IUCN’s ‘‘Red List’ of vulnerable and endangered species. Other species, including crocodiles and otters, are thought to be declining in numbers due to the large number of illegal fishing nets in the Lake.
Poachers and wildlife traffickers are thought to be using the waterways completely unchallenged as the park rangers currently either patrol on foot or by bicycle. By enabling Ugandan Wildlife Authority rangers to operate from patrol boats, which can be deployed silently anywhere along a shore line, it is intended that illegal activity be forced back onto the roads where it can be monitored and prevented more easily.
The Ugandan Conservation Foundation (UCF) will be working with the National Lake Rescue Institution (NLRI) on a project to benefit and support the UWA. One ranger boat and station has already been established at a fishing village called Mweya, on the northern side of Lake Edward – pictured – but funds are needed to help provide more patrol boats and boat stations. The UWA will be trained in boat handling, maintenance, water safety and rescue procedures. Once fully trained, the UWA will take over the operation of the boat stations.
The patrol boat stations are constructed from a 20ft redundant shipping container, which is reconfigured and a pitch roof added for deployment as a lifeboat station. The stations comprise an administration office, workshop and crew changing facility in addition to a secure area for the 15’ aluminium patrol boat which is fully equipped for its proposed role (see photo below).
If you would like to donate towards this project, please click here.

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