Saving Uganda’s Lions Through Community Participation

Dr. Ludwig Siefert and Senior Research Assistant James Kalyewa tracking and monitoring lion prides in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Photograph courtesy of UPC.

By Michael Schwartz

Africa’s remaining wild lions are facing a number of uphill battles as the continent’s human population grows. Nowhere is this dilemma more evident than the Republic of Uganda. A 2013 survey issued on the Lion Alert website gave a rough estimate of 421 felines.

The Uganda Carnivore Program (UPC) is a conservation organization dedicated to saving Uganda’s lions and other carnivores such as leopards and hyenas.

Working primarily in the country’s Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), their focus is scientific research and monitoring, and the Uganda Community Carnivore Project, which helps foster working relationships with local communities who live in the vicinity of lions and other predators.

UPC also works hand-in-hand with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the governing body that oversees and manages Uganda’s national parks, reserves, and other wildlife and natural resource management areas.

Director Monica Tyler and veterinarian and head of the Uganda Large Predator Project, Dr. Ludwig Siefert, were kind enough to answer some questions regarding the many challenges Uganda’s lions are facing and ways in which UPC is helping bridge the gap between rural farmers and the livelihood of Uganda’s remaining big cats.

Dr. Ludwig Siefert and Senior Research Assistant James Kalyewa tracking and monitoring lion prides in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Photograph courtesy of UPC.

A big reason lions are facing further decline in Uganda is agricultural development. Where is this occurring primarily in QENP?

UCP: Agricultural encroachment is happening along many of the park boundaries. Our work concentrates on the northern sector of QENP. We see it on the Kasese side of the northern boundary of the park and also on the western side, near Lake Katwe and the River Nyamugasani area.

When the Katwe crater area was taken over by cultivators, it precipitated various conflicts.

Katwe pastoralists lost a substantial gazetted grazing area, which —> Read More

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