Wildlife decline over the past four decades in Uganda has been dramatic, with recent bushmeat consumption trends being higher around national parks. In Uganda, BEAN founders including Vincent Opyene and Genesis Okello work within the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Their backgrounds bring expertise and experience in the law enforcement and education/livelihood to BEAN and to Uganda. They have been working in the two sectors to
Reaching local communities
Research in 2008-2009 in Murchison Falls National Park revealed high levels of bushmeat consumption was concentrated around the national park, where the majority of those interviewed eat it on a weekly basis. One reason is that bushmeat in this area is cheaper than domestic meat. The research concluded that the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) should engage local leadership in working with other stakeholders and local communities to identify and develop alternative protein and income sources. In addition to other strategies to address the drastic decline in wildlife in Uganda, community leaders were identified that wanted to work on developing protein alternatives to bushmeat, that could also serve as a source of sustainable income. Together they developed the Jonam Cultural and Conservation Association, a group of hunters who are trying to change their ways. Concurrently with voluntary handing over of 540 poaching tools and awareness raising, BEAN and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Veterinary Department delivered 42 goats. UWA is also contributing another 85 goats to increase the outcome. This energy has helped to raise the profile of the importance of wildlife across not only the park, but started to bring the problem onto the national scene. However, it is clear that this type of project will need continual engagement with participants, and through efforts of this sort, BEAN can bring partners together to develop more holistic approaches to the protein challenge.
Law Enforcement Capacity Building
Bridging the gap between partners is an important challenge in bringing poachers to justice. This includes work at the judicial level as well as at the level of law enforcement partners. Vincent has used his special expertise in wildlife law to lead trainings across the region in collaboration with wildlife partners to address inter-agency development. In Uganda and Kenya, law enforcement workshops were held in Murchison Falls National Park and the Masai Mara/Serengeti Ecosystem. The workshops were funded by United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Uganda Wildlife Authority, Mara Conservancy, Mara Siria Camp & Beyond, Care for the Wild – Kenya, and the Frankfurt Zoological Society. In Kenya 25 participants representing 11 institutions, including the police, magistrates, KWS, the Wildlife Division, Kenyan conservancies, and several NGOs, whereas the workshop in Uganda focused on UWA’s law enforcement issues involving representatives of the judiciary Directorate of public prosecution, police and wildlife rangers from UWA
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