Wildlife Crime

Elephants in Uganda

Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth Park and Ishasha Region, are home to nearly 1,000 elephants and used as a migratory corridor for many more. DSWF supports the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) funding the Waterways Project, the first waterborne anti-poaching patrols of these vulnerable waterways.

Ending conflict with elephants

The aim is to prevent conflict situations to ensure that elephants and people can live peacefully alongside each other in this politically sensitive and highly populated region. The river patrols mean that previously porous smuggling routes are being closed, making it much harder for poachers to escape with their illegal contraband. The emergency rescue service is also increasing local support for the project.

The problems faced by Uganda’s elephants, and other wildlife, are the same across Africa and Asia including increased competition for land with neighbouring human populations. The upsurge of poaching in Uganda, and Africa more generally, represents a severe threat to wildlife in the region which is still recovering from the devastation of the ivory poaching crisis of the 1970s.

The first partnership project between the Uganda Conservation Foundation ( UCF ) and DSWF specifically addressed and worked to reduce human/elephant conflict in the Ishasha River region, which marks the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo from where elephants are retreating due to the crisis in the country. With increased poaching, elephants were becoming more nervous and aggressive and conflict with the growing human population was increasing. DSWF continues to provide funds in this region, providing vital support to reinforce operations supporting the community and anti-poaching patrols, through the provision of radios, vehicle maintenance, bicycles, mosquito nets and tents.

Supporting the Waterways Project in Murchinson Falls

DSWF funding is also supporting the development of the Waterways Project in the Murchison Falls Conservation Area. This vast region, dominated by vulnerable water courses, is exposed to all forms of illegal activities; poaching, bushmeat and ivory smuggling and illegal fishing. Funding the building of boat stations at key locations which can only be accessed by waterborne patrols and supplying lightweight manoeuvrable boats and training for staff, has meant that patrols are now able to reach and cover inaccessible places more quickly in their fight against the illegal wildlife trade. The boats also help curb illegal fishing and are available for use by isolated communities in times of emergency which is proving invaluable in saving lives.

The ability for rangers to be deployed by boat means they do not have to travel long distances overland. The Waterways Project means that they can be deployed anywhere along a shoreline, silently and without detection.

Elephant numbers are starting to recover

Since supporting this work Uganda’s elephant numbers have started to recover. With continued funding we hope to further protect the waterways, apprehend more poachers, ensuring that convictions are secured and elephants and other wildlife in the region are protected.

Head anti-poaching ranger out on patrol on the waterways in Uganda
Header image courtesy Martin Harvey – Photo above: A M Weeden

Did you know?

The Ugandan elephant population is slowly rising but remains a fraction of the 20,000 elephants that roamed the area in the early 1970s