Park action plans: increasing community engagement in tackling wildlife crime

In Uganda many people poach because of human-wildlife conflict or lack of income earning opportunities. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has a community programme to address such problems, but it is hampered by limited capacity and support. At Murchison Falls National Park IIED and partners are piloting an approach that aims to increase community engagement in tackling wildlife crime by implementing park-level action plans.

Project
April 2017 to March 2021
Contact: 

Dilys Roe, Principal researcher

A hippo in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. IIED is helping the Uganda Wildlife Authority to address wildlife crime through community engagement (Photo: Mirko Eggert, Creative Commons, via Flickr)

Previous IIED-led research showed that while poverty is one driver of poaching and illegal wildlife trade (IWT), many people poach because they are angry about human-wildlife conflict or because there are no other ways of earning money.

Building capacity for pro-poor responses to wildlife crime in Uganda was a research project that ran from 2014-17. We found that the greatest reductions in wildlife crime were likely to result from: mitigating human-wildlife conflict, supporting community-based wildlife scouts, and establishing wildlife-friendly enterprises as a source of income. Addressing these issues and promoting community engagement is therefore an important complement to law enforcement measures that aim to reduce wildlife crime.

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda's largest national park. There are more than 400 wildlife scouts in the park, but only 120-160 are linked to schemes that provide support for establishing and maintaining their livelihoods. Understandably, this affects the scouts' motivation and effectiveness.

While the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has a community conservation programme, it is one of the most poorly resourced units within the authority. Limited coordination between UWA and NGO efforts to support community-based interventions to tackle the illegal wildlife trade also challenge UWA-community relationships.  

This four-year project, funded by the UK Government's Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, will address these issues by supporting the actions set out in UWA's Murchison Falls Community-Based Wildlife Crime Prevention Action Plan, and building the institutional capacity of UWA's Community Conservation Unit to support them.

What is IIED doing?

During this four-year project IIED and partners will:

  • Support existing wildlife-scout programmes with new community enterprise interventions, using the model pioneered by Village Enterprise to generate non-poaching related income and complement the human-wildlife conflict mitigation programme
     
  • Coordinate and share learning with existing community interventions around Murchison through the creation of a Coordination Forum, managed by the Uganda Conservation Foundation
     
  • Collate data gathered by park rangers to assess trends in snare activity, as well as data collected by wildlife scouts on human-wildlife conflict and information from surveys on community attitudes in order to assess the impact of our interventions. This work will be led by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Uganda
     
  • Build a community of practice within UWA on community engagement and the capacity of its Community Conservation Unit staff. This will monitor and report on the effectiveness of community engagement activities, and develop and test reporting protocols to align with performance targets and indicators in the park action plan.
     
  • Implement a skills development and mentoring programme with Community Conservation Unit staff to increase their expertise in areas such as intervention planning based on IWT intelligence, coordination with law enforcement, conflict resolution, gender sensitisation, and monitoring and reporting, and
     
  • Support UWA to revise its Community Conservation Policy using stakeholder consultations, and set a clear direction for the Community Conservation Unit within UWA's overall strategy on IWT.

Publications

Park action plans: increasing community engagement in tackling wildlife crime (2017), Project flyer

Murchison Falls National Park Community-Based Wildlife Crime Prevention Action Plan (2017)

Donors

The 'Implementing park action plans for community engagement to tackle IWT' project is grant funded by the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Challenge Fund through UK Government funding. However, the views expressed are not necessarily the views of the UK Government.

The IWT Challenge Fund is for projects around the world tackling illegal wildlife trade and supports action in three areas including developing sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by illegal wildlife trade.

Partners

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)

Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF)

Village Enterprise

Uganda Poverty and Conservation Learning Group (U-PCLG)

Contact

Dilys Roe (dilys.roe@iied.org), principal researcher, IIED's Natural Resources research group

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