Threat to Kidepo Wildlife: Invasive Plants on the Rise – The Ankole Times

Threat to Kidepo Wildlife: Invasive Plants on the Rise

Monday, February 5, 2024

Concerns are rising among conservationists as invasive plants, particularly the sickle bush, rapidly spread in Kidepo Valley National Park, jeopardizing food sources for wildlife. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) highlights that the sickle bush, a legume plant, has invaded over 500 acres in the park, primarily impacting the northern part comprising the two valley areas.

These invasive plants, not favored by many animals, not only diminish the available food sources but also suppress vegetation, forcing wildlife to move towards neighboring communities, leading to human-wildlife conflicts. Mr. David Okiring, assistant warden for tourism in Kidepo landscape, emphasizes that the invasive plants not only affect the ecosystem but also mar the park’s visual appeal. A budget of Shs40 million per quarter has been allocated to combat this issue.

Mr. Okiring acknowledges the challenges faced in the park over the past two years. Despite employing neighboring communities to manually remove invasive plants, it’s deemed insufficient. He urges the Ministry of Tourism and relevant authorities to increase funding beyond the current Shs40 million annually for effective mitigation.

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Mr. Richard Muhabwe, the chief warden of Kidepo Valley National Park, identifies invasive plants as a significant threat to the park. The sickle bush, an invasive species, is particularly problematic as it colonizes areas, depriving animals of essential forage.

The national park, spanning 1,442 square kilometers, is the third-largest in Uganda, hosting diverse wildlife such as buffaloes, lions, zebras, elephants, cheetahs, antelopes, warthogs, giraffes, and numerous bird species.

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