The Uganda Carnivore Program is dedicated to the research and conservation of lions, leopards and hyenas in the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is located in southwest Uganda. In addition to scientific research and monitoring activities, an important component of the conservation activities involves working closely with the local communities to improve human-wildlife coexistence.
The worldwide populations of lions, leopards, and hyenas have declined significantly over the past several years, due mainly to the growing needs of an expanding human population. Habitat loss due to human settlement and agriculture development, loss of prey population, and retaliatory killing by humans following livestock depredation are their main threats in Africa.The situation with the predators of Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park typifies many of the issues facing predators in other parts of Africa. Growing human populations in villages within the park, and many others just outside park boundaries, cause a great deal of pressure on the human and wildlife population, resulting in both human-wildlife conflict and sustainable development challenges.The Park’s carnivores are facing a population crisis, primarily due to their close proximity to these human settlements. The large territorial ranges of most carnivores, as well as their protein-based diet, mean they often compete with humans for space and food.
Research and Monitoring:
UCP takes a multi-disciplinary approach to conserving the Park’s carnivore populations including formulating recommendations regarding appropriate management for predators, assisting the wildlife authority in conflict mitigation & rescue or relocation operations, tracking, via radio-telemetry, certain lions and leopards in the park in order to monitor their movements, territories, risky encounters, and, particularly, their incursions into conflict “hot zones”, where they face the danger of meeting up with people and their livestock. They also maintain a comprehensive large carnivore database for the northern sector of QENP and establish, analyze and project large carnivore biodynamics & provide population viability analysis.
By developing activities that increase the local communities’ voice and participation in wildlife conservation, UCP encourages and fosters community involvement and awareness. They also provide education outreach to the communities and other stakeholders about large carnivores, including their significance to the ecosystem and conflict prevention measures and community socio-economic development via participation in ecotourism and other sustainable activities.
Oakland Zoo’s Docent Volunteers raised funds to establish a Community Education Center in one of the villages bordering the Park. Leopard Village is a community-run socio-economic development initiative that supports cultural and wildlife conservation through ecotourism. The Center includes replicas of traditional huts, a library for village children, and a meeting space for community members to come together to discuss resolutions to human-wildlife conflict. The villagers also present information about their rich cultural traditions to tourists to the area, including sharing folk tales and knowledge about their pastoral and agricultural livelihoods, performing traditional songs and dances, and selling locally-made handicrafts.
Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Grant has provided funds for lion monitoring activities.
Our teen and adult ecotours to Uganda spend time with UCP staff in Queen Elizabeth National Park, gaining invaluable insight into the challenges facing both the human and wildlife populations in this biologically diverse part of Africa. Volunteer and Staff expertise: The Zoo’s volunteers and staff provide guidance and support for UCP’s conservation education and outreach work with the local communities and schools in Uganda.