The preservation of the fragile habitats where gorillas live is essential for their survival.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is owned by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, a parastatal government body. The park has total protection, although communities adjacent to the park can access some of its resources.
The areas bordering the park have a high population density of more than 300 people per square kilometer. Some of the people who live in these areas are among the poorest people in Uganda. The high population and poor agricultural practices place a great deal of pressure on Bwindi forest, and are one of the biggest threats to the park. 90% of the people are dependent on subsistence agriculture, as agriculture is one of the area’s few ways of earning income.
Prior to Bwindi’s gazetting as a national park in 1991, the park was designated as a forest reserve and regulations about the right to access the forest were more liberal and not often enforced. Local people hunted, mined, logged, pit sawed, and kept bees in the park. It was gazetted as a national park in 1991 because of its rich biodiversity and threats to the integrity of the forest. Its designation as a national park gave the park higher protection status.
State agencies increased protection and control of the park. Adjacent communities’ access to the forest immediately ended.
This closing of access caused large amounts of resentment and conflict among these local communities and park authorities. The Batwa, a group that has relied on the forest, were badly affected. The Batwa fished, harvested wild yams, wild honey and their ancestral sites were located in the park.
Despite the Batwa people’s historical claim to land rights and having lived in the area for generations without destroying the area’s ecosystem, they did not benefit from any national compensation scheme when they were evicted.
Non-Batwa farmers who had cut down the forested areas in order to cultivate them, received compensation and their land rights were recognised. People have lost livestock and crops from wildlife, and there have been some human deaths.
The habituation of gorillas to humans in order to facilitate tourism may have increased the damage they do to local people’s property because their fear of people has decreased
The Uganda Wildlife Authority
The Uganda Wildlife Authority manages all the national parks in Uganda. Our staff are on hand to answer questions and help you plan your walks and activities.