Communities bordering national parks, including Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori in Kasese District, have raised concerns about inadequate compensation from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for damages caused by wild animals. The issue was discussed during a human-wildlife conflict engagement meeting at Kasese Resort on February 2, 2024, attended by affected communities, UWA, and political leaders.
Several residents expressed dissatisfaction, stating that compensation provided is often less than 50% of the actual value of lost animals or property. Janet Katushabe, a resident of Hamukungu village, recounted an incident where lions attacked her goats, and the compensation of Sh200,000 fell significantly short of the estimated million-shilling value.
Similarly, James Kainemura shared his experience of lions attacking and killing his cow, expecting Sh3 million in compensation but receiving only Sh500,000 from UWA. The Basongora cultural leader, Imara Dan Kashagama Ndahura II, emphasized the importance of fair compensation, as the communities heavily rely on animals for their livelihoods.
Ndahura urged communities to peacefully coexist with wildlife, citing the benefits derived from 20% of UWA revenue allocated to them annually. He highlighted the funds’ contribution to community development, including road rehabilitation and educational support.
Moses Muhumuza, a wildlife researcher, encouraged residents to embrace community tourism and explore innovative ways to create marketable products for tourists, such as shoes, mats, and drums.
In response, John Justin Tibesigwa, the Mt Rwenzori National Park chief warden, emphasized the importance of following the correct channels for compensation. He clarified that for destroyed crops, agricultural officers should assess the damage to determine the appropriate compensation.
Tibesigwa assured that UWA recently disbursed significant amounts to compensate those who followed the correct procedures, reinforcing the need for adherence to established protocols.