Breaking

Conservationists Want Incentives for Rangers, Communities

The conservationists argue that giving tokens or incentives to communities living near protected areas will encourage them to alert rangers when wild animals leave their habitats and also ensure fellow community members do not kill the animals.
US Ambassador Natalie E. Brown (Middle) engages Dr. James Musinguzi, the Executive Director at UWEC at the Entebbe Zoo.

Audio 2

Conservationists want communities and rangers to be given incentives for their contribution to wildlife conservation.

They argue that giving tokens or incentives to communities living near protected areas will encourage them to alert rangers when wild animals leave their habitats and also ensure fellow community members do not kill the animals. 

Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, a gorilla conservationist since 1988,  says that while the Wildlife Act, 2019 provides for compensation for people who are killed or whose property is damaged by wildlife, the law does not provide rewards for people who give information about poachers, raids and other efforts that could boost conservation.

Sections 82, 83, and 84 of the  Wildlife Act provide for the establishment of a wildlife compensation verification committee and wildlife compensation scheme for any "person who suffers bodily injury or is killed or suffers damage to his or her Property by wild animals."

Zikusoka wants the Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA to devise reward schemes for rangers, community scouts, communities living near conservation areas, and whistleblowers to encourage them to fight against illegal wildlife trade and trafficking such as poaching, hunting, importing, and exporting of illegal wildlife products. 

Zikusoka says the incentives should range from 50,000 to 100,000 Shillings for individuals who report early and also rangers who respond quickly to reports to avert human-wildlife conflict.

//Cue in: “Several... Cue out.... think it's helpful."//

George Owoyesigire, the acting Commissioner Conservation at the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities says that incentives are less costly than paying compensation claims. He explains that the UWA has not yet started compensating victims because the regulations to operationalize the compensation scheme are not in place.

According to Owoyesigire, the regulations are still being processed by the Attorney General and on approval, then UWA will start paying the claims.

The Wildlife Act provides that among others,  two percent of UWA's revenue from services offered will be allocated to the wildlife compensation scheme.

Sam Mwandha, the Executive Director at UWA, agrees, says that the authority is currently facing financial constraints due to the negative impact of Covid-19 on tourism and global travels. 

Since September 2019, Mwandha says the authority has received more than 1,000 claims for compensation, and yet the account for the compensation scheme that was opened in July 2020 has 440 Million Shillings. 

However, he supports giving incentives, saying it could result in fewer human-wildlife conflicts and thereby reduction in the number of compensation claims.