MAKERERE UNIVERSITY BIOLOGICAL FIELD STATION (MUBFS)
The station is itself a conservation effort. The presence of MUBFS in Kibale provides long-term direct employment for fifty-two people and indirectly cascades benefits for up to 720 people up to several kilometers away. Additionally, other important community benefits, such as primarily health care and education, are associated with the research field station. Although the benefits of the research station do not eliminate community–park conflict entirely, the long-term presence of researchers and the gains to local people associated with them are under-appreciated and important means to better integrate the goals of biodiversity protection and local community investment.
The field station has been the training ground for many Ugandan graduate students who have gone on to hold important positions in the Ugandan government, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (Executive Director), Universities, and conservation NGOs. We have opened the eyes to thousands of national and international students about the wonders of nature and the complexities of protecting it. Finally, without the station and the efforts of the long-term researchers, many of the conservation projects listed above would never have existed.
UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY
The Uganda Wildlife Foundation (UWA) runs Kibale, it is the heart of all of the conservation projects—and will be what sustains the park’s conservation for generations to come. UWA’s role in conservation should always be thought of first and it must also be involved in all efforts to conserve Kibale’s biodiversity or to help the local people. 20% of the park’s revenue coming from tourism, research fees, filming, (etc.) goes directly back to the local communities, which improves their well-being and decreases conflict between the park’s animals and the human population.
The Mission of the Ugandan Wildlife Authority:
“To conserve, economically develop and sustainably manage the wildlife and protected areas of Uganda in partnership with neighboring communities and other stakeholders for the benefit of the people of Uganda and the global community.”
This reality has led to the development of a number of conservation projects. Below is a quick overview of a few of these projects that are organized into the categories of Health, Education, Tourism, and Conservation, Protection, and Research.
KIBALE HEALTH AND CONSERVATION PROJECT
The Kibale Health and Conservation Project clinic was founded by Colin Chapman and Lauren Chapman (Professors at George Washington University and McGill University) who were inspired by the community of people living closest to the forest area where they carry out much of their conservation work. The project seeks to create a union between health care and conservation, thereby decreasing illegal wildlife hunting, improving the health of local villagers, and reducing risks of future pandemics— a win-win scenario.
History and early establishment: With the help of grants from several charitable organizations, as well as donations raised by student lead fundraisers, enough money was raised to complete the clinic in 2007. The clinic was then staffed by a full-time nurse, an educator, and a visiting doctor to treat patients. In 2012, Colin secured a grant from Grand Challenges Canada to buy a second-hand ambulance, and had it shipped to Uganda, to serve those who live all around the almost 800 km2 park to be treated and to have the opportunity to receive health and conservation outreach. This addition effectively increased the scale of the project, which is now estimated to reach over 120,000 people annually.
What services are provided by the clinic? The clinic currently provides basic health care services such as treatments for common ailments, vaccinations, physical exams, maternal care to expecting mothers, emergency care when possible, provisions of vitamins, HIV/AIDS treatment and counseling, and deworming. In addition, the clinic provides important outreach programs about family planning, nutrition, sanitation, the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, Covid-19, and conservation. In the future, the clinic hopes to expand its programs to make more frequent visits and when a doctor can accompany the mobile clinic to have more family planning events . The clinic itself serves the needs of 24 communities, so far having distributed over 50,000 condoms, 8,000 malaria-preventing mosquito nets, and 1,200 reading glasses.
Future plans for the clinic: Currently the health clinic is diligently working to provide the necessary response and care for those who are affected by covid-19. In addition, the clinic hopes to expand in the future so that they can provide a more comprehensive health and education program to more communities around the park.
Created in 1997 to be the community outreach arm of the research based Kibale Chimpanzee Project (Richard Wrangham, Harvard University), the Kibale Forest Schools’ Program partners with US registered public charity, The Kasiisi Project (spearheaded by Elizabeth Ross), to promote conservation of Kibale National Park and its animals through programs in local government funded primary schools that support excellent education, good health and care for the environment. Working with 16 schools located within 5km of the park boundary our programs serve 8000-10000 children and their communities, spanning educational support, special needs of girls and conservation education. Our close ties with Kibale forest-based research groups has led to collaborative research projects linked to conservation.
UNITE for the Environment is a program led by the North Carolina Zoo that has operated in Kibale for over 15 years. The program partners with local schools within 5 kilometers from the park to improve teaching methods, to enable teachers to incorporate more environmental topics into the classroom, and to help the local community find ways to reduce their impact on the park and the environment in general. It regularly hold teacher workshops, organizes school field trips, and has created conservation clubs.
NEW NATURE FOUNDATION
The New Nature Foundation strives to conserve wild animals and wild places through education, empowerment, and an emphasis on creative solutions that promote people living in harmony with nature. It has made great strides in helping people meet their needs for fuelwood and reducing pressure off the park and decreasing illegal wood extraction, by helping people make fuel efficient stoves, making briquettes, and running tree planting projects. The project was started by Rebecca Goldstone and Michael Stern who first came to Kibale as undergraduates to do research in the park
Tourism plays a hugely important role in protecting the biodiversity of Kibale. It is an economic powerhouse for local conservation in that 20% of the revenue that the Uganda Wildlife Authority gets from tourists goes directly to the local community. It also has led to the development of many local people benefiting by running their own tourist efforts, contributed to local employment, and has helped open the region to investment. Most importantly, it has helped fuel the Uganda economy at a whole, which is something that the government greatly values, which protects for forest from other sorts of development (e.g., logging).
Lake Nkuruba is volcanic crater lake and the forested sides of the crater is home to 6 species of primates and represents a bird watchers delight. This is a locally run tourist project that was started by Drs Colin and Lauren Chapman, who, in 1991, saw trees on the crater rim were being cut down to build a church and worked with the congregation to find alternatives. It has become a relaxing haven for travelers who are often drawn to the region to see the chimps, but can spend a relaxing stay at the crater lake, enjoying nature and interacting with the local community.
Conservation, Protection, and Research
KIBALE CHIMPANZEE PROJECT
Started in 1987 by Richard Wrangham, the Kibale Chimpanzee Project is dedicated to the conservation and welfare of chimpanzees and their habitats. They are committed to promoting long-term research on chimpanzees and their ecosystems, to further our understanding of primate diversity, conservation biology, and the evolution of the human condition. We also work with government agencies and international partners to improve the lives of people living near chimpanzees. These programs increase awareness of the benefits of protecting rainforests and their inhabitants, and help to increase income in local areas, to reduce the destruction of the rainforest. They also are the home to the Snare Removal Program. The team spends 24 days each month patrolling the park and removing snares.
With its amazing forests, Kibale is a biodiversity hotspot of true wonder. But, it also the last forest of its kind in East Africa. It is essentially a forest island in the middle of a sea of agricultural land that is home to a very high human population. By western economic standards, people in this area are poor, and therefore the resources in the park are a tempting opportunity to make ends meet, send children to school, or to earn some income to pay for a medical emergency.
NGOGO CHIMPANZEE PROJECT
Ngogo Chimpanzee Project was started in 1995 by David Watts and John Mitani and was joined in 2011 by Kevin Langergraber. The project conducts scientific research on the chimpanzees at the Ngogo Research Site in the middle of Kibale, but it is also dedicated to protecting wildlife from poaching and education. They employ local community members to patrol the park for signs of poaching activity and to remove snare.