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Ugandans Call For Promotion Of Conservation At Oil Public Hearing

The public hearing on the proposed established of an oil Early Production System (EPS) in Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve, which took place on 29th July concluded with Ugandans calling for promotion of environment-friendly practices that will ensure that conservation continues even as oil production begins within one of Uganda’s popular protected areas.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) organized the hearing after the public expressed major concerns with regard to the Environmental Impact Assessment, which was submitted by Tullow Oil – the company behind the plans to establish the EPS in the reserve.

Ugandans called for equitable sharing of the oil revenue, and expressed keen interest in seeing key constituents such as wildlife conservation and the local communities of Bunyoro benefit significantly from this revenue.

Sam Mwandha, the Director for Conservation at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said a Conservation Fund should be established that will be used to fund monitoring and evaluation activities as well as help in implementing mitigation measures that Tullow Oil may fail to implement.

Tullow Oil opted to construct the EPS in Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve after confirming that the other alternative location would push the costs of production too high.

The EIA report proposed that the Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve be degazetted in order to accommodate the oil production activities, but this was flatly rejected.

We want the public to know that oil production will last a limited time, but the biodiversity in the reserve will remain and we should protect it,” Mwandha said at the hearing, further observing that, “There will be big potential for pollution yet the EIA report was short on recommendations as far as mitigation will go.”
He also mentioned that monitoring remains a big challenge, and it will require all the relevant government agencies to get together to establish strong monitoring mechanisms.

The Deputy Prime Minister of the Bunyoro Government said that government should ensure that there is a concrete plan for opening up new areas where displaced wildlife will find refuge, as well as plans for resettling the people who will get displaced.

Former Member of Parliament for Rubaga North, and a renown environmental crusader, Ken Lukyamuzi observed that the planned EPS (oil refinery) would greatly impact on the ecosystem in the wildlife reserve and all efforts should be made to protect its beauty.

Speaking on behalf of the Honorary Wildlife Officers, Dr. Arthur Mugisha said as much thought should be put into the ecological costs of oil production as the economic costs, and concerted efforts should e made to preserve the ecology of the wildlife reserve.

The Member of Parliament for Bugaya County, Hon.Patrick Baguma said it is necessary to do a cost-benefit analysis before a license for establishing an oil refinery in a wildlife reserve is granted. “What shall we lose in terms of the flora and fauna (biodiversity) compared to oil?” he asked rhetorically.

However, the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Service, Hon Henry Kajura who also hails from Bunyoro, told participants in the public hearing that Ugandans should now concentrate on working out recommendations on how to get the oil flowing without negatively impacting the wildlife reserve.

“Let us move forward; we need this resource for development and for our infrastructure such as schools, roads and communications,” he implored.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Kabagambe Kaliisa said that whether at central or local government level, oil revenue will be used to create wealth and put infrastructure in place, create knowledge, educate the people and develop the country.

The Minister of State for Water and Environment, Hon Jessica Eriyo however counseled that the issues discussed at the public hearing should be taken seriously and integrated into program activities by all the concerned parties.

“Oil and gas will meet our country’s needs for a long time, but the risks to biodiversity are also likely to increase. The challenge is to have a strong voice for biodiversity conservation and reduce air and water pollution,” Hon. Eriyo said.

She observed that there is need to harness the opportunities for conservation, and pointed out that when the oil is finished we still need to have our ecosystems in good shape.

“Biodiversity conservation is an integral component of sustainable development,” she observed, adding, “I therefore urge Tullow Oil and other organizations to ensure that environmental considerations are in all their activities including improvement of community livelihoods.”

By the time the public hearing ended after nearly 10 hours of discussing and debating, consensus was reached to the effect that oil exploration and production should not be at the expense of biodiversity conservation.

Tullow Oil acknowledged that the loss of plants and displacement of animals will be inevitable during construction of the EPS but promised to keep the area affected as small as possible.

They also promised that after construction of the EPS they would ensure that all the areas around the EPS are returned to the same state as before.

USFWS Wildlife without Borders Africa 2008-2009 MENTOR Fellowship Program

Through the USFWS Wildlife Without Borders Africa 2008-2009 MENTOR Fellowship Program, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG), the College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, Tanzania, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are developing a “model” mentored fellowship program to build the capacity of an interdisciplinary network of eight emerging African wildlife professionals and their four highly experienced African Mentors to strongly influence and lead efforts to reduce illegal bushmeat exploitation at local, national, and regional levels in Eastern Africa. The MENTOR (Mentoring for Environmental Training in Outreach and Resources conservation) Fellowship Program provides academic and field based training for the Fellows while building a regional network to deal with bushmeat exploitation. The program includes national and local bushmeat field assessments, wide outreach activities with multiple stakeholders, and the development of innovative pilot implementation projects on multi-pronged solutions to the bushmeat trade using coordinated group, team and individual approaches, many of which are transboundary.

The 18 month program was created to build the capacity of emerging conservation leaders by combining six months of academic studies at the CAWM with 12 months of field based Mentoring in the Fellows’ home countries. In addition to earning a post-graduate diploma in wildlife management from CAWM, the Fellows build their professional capacity through one-on-one guidance from their Mentors. The program defines “mentoring” as a long-term learning partnership. The role of the Mentor is to help the Fellows to develop skills to help answer technical questions, to explain concepts and ideas, to catalyze professional growth, to review career plans and to motivate and encourage. Mentors were nominated by members of the conservation community and four outstanding, well-qualified, and well known conservation professionals were selected including: 1) Dr. Evans Mwangi of the University of Nairobi, Kenya, 2) Dr. Jamus Joseph of WCS-Southern Sudan, 3) Mr. Thadeus Binamungu of African Wildlife Foundation-Tanzania, and 4) Dr. William Olupot of WCS-Uganda.

In December 2007, the eight Fellows representing four countries (Kenya, Southern Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda) were chosen.

The Opening Ceremony for the USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program was held on 6 February 2008 at CAWM. Participants included key leaders working on the bushmeat issue such as the Lusaka Agreement Task Force with excellent representation from partners including AWF, JGI, WCS and WWF. The Opening Ceremony was an important opportunity to discuss the illegal bushmeat trade in Eastern Africa. It was a great networking experience for the MENTOR Fellows and a good introduction for leading partners about the program.

From February to March and June through August 2008, the Mentors and numerous partners came to Mweka to provide training for the Fellows on bushmeat challenges and bushmeat solutions. CAWM faculty also provided training on key issues. They coordinated a field visit to Lake Manyara and Serengeti in order to provide a hands-on opportunity for the Fellows to study the bushmeat trade.

USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program Modules at CAWM

Introduction to Wildlife Management and Bushmeat Challenges;Bushmeat Trade and Management in Eastern Africa;Social Marketing for Conservation;Bushmeat Field Assessments;Sullivan Summit;Environmental Education;Data Analysis and Sharing Results;Emerging Wildlife Diseases;Bushmeat Solutions: Economic and Protein Alternatives;Adaptive Management;Bushmeat Solutions: Private Sector Alliances and Partnerships
Pilot Project Implementation;Study Tour;Wildlife Management Leadership;Program Outreach and Evaluation

The post-graduate diploma curriculum for the USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program at CAWM is designed to provide the Fellows with the knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSAs) to address the illegal bushmeat trade challenges in eastern Africa. The program develops the leadership and planning capabilities of the Fellows so that take ownership of the process and use adaptive management to design a comprehensive strategy to address bushmeat exploitation in eastern Africa. Together with leading conservation experts, the team is determining group, team and individual projects to kick start and build a network of professionals who can work together on bushmeat solutions. The curriculum focuses on:

The Fellows participated in the Leon Sullivan Summit VIII hosted by Tanzanian President Kikwete where policymakers from throughout Africa gathered to discuss key issues facing the continent including the environment. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne mentioned the USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program and raised awareness about the bushmeat issue during the Opening Ceremony of Sullivan Summit that had thousands of people attending and was broadcast live on national TV in Tanzania. Mr. Kaush Arha, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, visited with the Fellows at Mweka and discussed policy issues in eastern Africa and the U.S. The fellows submitted their abstract for the conference for conservation biology and were selected, between 25 jan and 1 feb the fellows presented their assessment finding and visited the Ghana wildlife division and had a talk with the team chaired by the ED.

Urban Areas in Uganda: Gulu, Kasese, Masindi, and Kampala
More than two hundred respondents were intervieed in four urban centers of Uganda (Gulu, Kasese, Masindi and Kampala) including 80 trader, 80 consumers, 40 police, and 30 wildlife officers. The key findings are that wildlife populations are declining and there are local extinctions. The origin of the bushmeat is from Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. The main drivers of the illegal bushmeat are taste, poverty, and culture. Bushmeat is important to livelihoods. There is currently inadequate awareness of the linkages between bushmeat and disease, about wildlife laws, and the value of wildlife. Law enforcement is insufficient. The preferred species for the bushmeat trade are hippo, buffalo, and warthog. Species that are disappearing from the trade include hippo, buffalo and elephant.

Legal Regime and Institutional Governance of Bushmeat Utilization In Uganda and Tanzania
One hundred and forty people including prosecutors, police, law enforcement wardens from protected areas, state attorneys and magistrates were interviewed in Uganda and Tanzania in order to gain understanding of the legal regimes and institutional governance regarding bushmeat utilization. The key finding was that there is inadequate awareness of wildlife laws by law enforcers. The forensic equipment for proving cases is inadequate. In Tanzania, use of the Economic Crime Act contributes to the failure in prosecuting wildlife cases.
The laws in Uganda currently have no provision for the financial values of wildlife while the laws in Tanzania have no provision for other wildlife values.

With guidance by experts, the Fellows are using adaptive management methodology including conceptual modeling and results chains to draft a regional bushmeat strategy

From September 2008 to June 2009, the Fellows plan to work in teams to develop pilot intervention projects in key protected areas in eastern Africa including:

  1. Murchison Falls Conservation Area, Uganda – focus on income generating alternatives with the reformed poachers groups.
  2. Eastern Africa region – focus on training for magistrates and prosecutors, information management, partnerships to improve law enforcement and cross border collaboration.