In an effort to protect mountain gorillas in the Mgahinga and Bwindi national parks, a bee-keeping project has been initiated by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP).
The major objective of coming up with a project of this nature, is to benefit all the communities in the vicinity of these two national parks in Uganda. This strategy aims at curbing down poaching.
In an effort to protect the mountain gorillas in Mgahinga and Bwindi national parks, a bee-keeping project has been initiated by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). The major objective of coming up with a project of this nature, is to benefit all the communities in the vicinity of these two national parks in Uganda. This strategy aims at curbing down poaching.
Mr. David Mwine, the IGCP regional enterprise Officer, explained, “Empowering such communities around the national parks by providing alternative source of income will keep the national parks of Bwindi and Mgahinga intact because there will be less pressure from the people around them”.
He went on to say, “Supporting bee-keeping projects around these national parks is so significant because once we give an opportunity to such people to construct their bee-hives close to the parks, they always protect the forest in case of fire outbreak just because they have invested in there. The major threat to the mountain gorilla emanates from the intense desire for land and food for the growing human population around the gorilla habitat in area.”
Thus all the partners in this arrangement aim at reducing specific threats to the mountain gorillas, for instance, deforestation, poaching and disease. The IGCP has come up with a strategy to involve the local community in developing their livelihood and supporting policy and conservation legislation. The IGCP has, so far, contributed in the construction of a community lodge at Nkuringo in Kisoro District. This is estimated to earn the local community $5000 rent per year. It has also donated honey processing equipment and a motorcycle to over 400 members of Bwindi Bee Keepers Association.
Mr. Rutagarama Eugene, the Director of IGCP, argued that the mission of his organization, is to empower people in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda to sustain a network of trans-boundary protected areas so as to significantly contribute to sustainable development and protection of the mountain gorillas in their natural habitats in Mgahinga and Bwindi in Uganda, Virunga in DRC and Volcano in Rwanda.
According to Mr. Rutagarama, mountain gorilla population has risen by 17% over a decade making approximately a global total of 720. He further explained that IGCP had already linked of handcrafts and honey extracted from the gorilla habitats in the Great Lakes region to international markets in the US where there are reasonable prices.
Mr. Barekye, the LC3 Chairman Ikumba sub-county, revealed that his council through NAADS programme had already offered over 100 bee hives to Bwindi bee keepers. He also said that they had given tea growing along the park boundaries, a priority so as to stop wild animals from destroying their crops. A community campsite at Rwamanyonyi – the highest peak near Bwindi national park where tourists can get a clear view of the park, has been constructed. In addition, 2000 people have been trained in economic skills and enterprise development under the Functional Adult Literacy programme so that they can withstand the national park challenges. Mountain gorilla trekking has greatly enhanced the development of Bwindi area and the district in general.
It’s amazing that such a small creature can help save one of the largest mammals.