Category Archives: Wildlife Conservation

Cut a Forest and Put a Man on the Moon

Yesterday a Ugandan man and I were planning an environmental education training for teachers. He was lamenting the poor state of the environment in Uganda and said that he wished Ugandans had the same sense of responsibility towards the environment that Americans have. He said “why can’t we Ugandans see the value of the environment and the forests?”

I pointed out to him that the United States has actually cut down 98% of our original forests, and that we aren’t exactly model citizens from an environmental perspective.

His response was “Yes, but you have something to show for it. We cut down our forests and have nothing – you cut down your forests and put a man on the moon.”

He has a certain point. The rampant resource extraction of the 1800s in the United States made us a very rich country, and until recently that wealth was spread much more evenly across society than it is in many other parts of the world.

So here’s my question to you: Why was the United States able to create national wealth from our resources when Uganda’s resources are just making a few people very rich?

Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala
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Murchison Falls Continues to be Museveni's Punching Bag (or Punchline)

Can this really be happening? Murchison Falls National Park seems to be Museveni’s punching bag. First, it was opened up for unlimited oil drilling, and now he is demanding that the Madhvani Group, the owners of Paraa and Chobe Lodges, be allowed to build a golf course within the park. Clearly he does not take the concept of “National Park” seriously.

I think building a Wal-Mart or a 24-hour Nakumatt at the Top of the Falls would be a reasonable next step. Continue reading

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Uganda’s Mountain Parks Might Be the Last Refuge in a Changed Climate

The Rwenzori Mountains and Mount Elgon, the bookends of Uganda, may provide a last bastion for biodiversity in Uganda in a changing climate. While these mountainous national parks get fewer visitors and fewer conservation dollars than the savanna parks with their charismatic wildlife, they might turn out to be the most important ones to protect. Continue reading

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UWA Leadership Exonerated by Parliament

It seems that the Ugandan Parliament has seen through the motives of the new Uganda Wildlife Authority board and condemned them for trying to get at the funds held by UWA in its various accounts. I have written about the questionable actions of the board here, here, and here.

Hopefully this will put a welcome brake on the precipitous actions of the new Uganda Wildlife Authority board of directors. An article in today’s issue of The Monitor, titled MP’s Dismiss Otifiire’s Report on Wildlife Agency, opens with the line “MPs have said the sacking of the Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Mr Moses Mapesa, is part of a wider scheme by some members of the agency’s board and some top officials in the Tourism Ministry to swindle money.”

For people within the Wildlife Authority, it has been clear for a while that the ultimate target of the new board is the Wildlife Authority’s accounts, particularly money that has been set aside to create a trust fund to support the operations in the parks.

This attack on the part of the Minister of Trade, Tourism and Industry, General Kahinda Otifiire, and his appointee Dr. Muballe, comes at a time when the parks in Uganda are particularly vulnerable. Oil exploration is expanding in many of the national parks here, and a breakdown in the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority would eliminate any last resistance to uncontrolled drilling in the parks.

Hopefully this ruling by the Members of Parliament will lead to the reappointment of Moses Mapesa and a strengthening of the power of the Uganda Wildlife Authority to resist attacks on the National Parks regardless of the source of those attacks.

Read the rest of the article here: MP’s Dismiss Otifiire’s Report on Wildlife Agency

Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala Continue reading

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Spitting Fight between Nagenda and Otafiire

The mess at Uganda Wildlife Authority seems to have taken a more personal twist lately, with volleys in the press between Presidential Media Advisor John Nagenda and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Industry, General Kahinda Otafiire. Continue reading

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Impact of Oil Development on Wildlife Not Always Obvious

Nobody really knows what effect oil drilling will have on wildlife in Uganda. Most of the national parks and other protected areas are slated for drilling, and much of the oil is being found in the Albertine Rift, one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. In Murchison Falls National Park, most of the current and proposed test wells are in the areas with the highest concentrations of wildlife and, while efforts are being made to gather some baseline data on the animals to measure impacts against, population numbers are estimates at best, and behavioral studies of the animals are limited or non-existent. If the natural heritage of this country is going to be protected, a lot more information needs to be gathered.

One thing that Uganda can do is look to studies that have been done in other places that are farther along the oil journey. Gabon is another country that is drilling in its national parks, and it has many of the same species of animals. A study was published this year in the journal Biological Conservation that looks at Oil Prospecting and its Impact on Large Rainforest Mammals in Loango National Park, Gabon. The species they looked at are elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys and duikers – all species that can be found in Uganda as well. Continue reading

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Rothschild's Giraffe Now Listed as Endangered Species

Few animals scream “Africa” the way giraffes do. There are nine subspecies of giraffe in Africa, two of which are now listed as endangered by the IUCN. Nearly half of the remaining wild members of this endangered species call Murchison Falls National Park their home. Continue reading

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The Expat vs. Ugandan Dynamic

This post reflects on the relationship between expats and Ugandans using the comments of Dr. Muballe, chair of the Uganda Wildlife Authority board, as a launching pad. Continue reading

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The Plot Thickens at Uganda Wildlife Authority

There is a firestorm of accusations coming from all directions at Uganda Wildlife Authority this week. It seems that earlier reports of the reasons for the sacking of the Executive Director and others may have simply been used to cover some questionable motives of the new Board of Directors.

I won’t go into detail here, because you can read about it in this article (http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/980714/-/item/0/-/y25hwyz/-/index.html) in the Monitor and follow the links to the related articles.

Take it all with a grain of salt, though, as I am sure more information will be uncovered as everybody begins to investigate everybody else.

What a mess. Continue reading

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New Vision Online : Top Wildlife bosses suspended over graft

I have a feeling it is not a coincidence that this story (see below) has come out soon after the suspension of the hunting licenses.  It seems that the new board at Uganda Wildlife Authority is taking its responsibilities seriously. … Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Environment, Politics, Society, Wildlife Conservation | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments