In Uganda, Finding Ways to Keep People and Elephants at Peace

By Michael Schwartz

A gazetted national park doesn’t always stop wildlife from crossing into human territory. This is especially true of African elephant herds that follow historic migration routes.

In Uganda, elephants will occasionally leave the security of protected areas, even migrating across national boundaries. By doing so, human-elephant conflict (HEC) occurs.

Unable to protect themselves from wildlife as adequately as those living in the developed world, rural communities have less tolerance for animals that unknowingly damage local livelihoods. Villagers’ crops are often raided, and people and elephants can suffer severe injury or death as a result.

Yet despite setbacks, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is proactively deploying nonlethal elephant deterrents, employing local wildlife guards, and working to maintain safe migratory corridors in the hopes of further reducing HEC.

Between Uganda and South Sudan

Kidepo Valley National Park is one of Africa’s most unspoiled wilderness areas, located in the remote Karamoja sub-region of northern Uganda, and adjacent to South Sudan’s greater Kidepo Valley Game Reserve.

Kidepo Valley National Park near the border of South Sudan. Photograph by Michael Schwartz.

Each year, a number of the park’s elephants migrate from the Narus and Kidepo valleys through the Lutokei Mountains and into the Kidepo Reserve.

“Naturally when animals cross an international border, they no longer belong to your country,” said UWA Cpl. Samuel Lowero. “But what we have done as the managers of Kidepo is a program called Transboundary.”

Kidepo elephant near the border of South Sudan. Photograph by Michael Schwartz.
Kidepo elephant near the border of South Sudan. Photograph by Michael Schwartz.

Assisted by the recently formed South Sudanese government, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers now double as wildlife rangers. The Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces additionally built barracks at the border near Kidepo’s Sand River where their soldiers work in tandem with —> Read More

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