Despite ongoing efforts to reverse the trend, cases of deadly clashes between wildlife and humans in communities near wildlife reserves are still commonplace.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) reports that up to 13,000 human-wildlife conflict cases were reported from 2009 to 2017 in areas surrounding conservation areas.
In Hoima district, one of the most recent such cases is 6-year-old girl Praise Abesiigwa, who was grabbed and injured by a chimpanzee.
I recently sat down with the girl’s parents who narrated the terrifying story of their child’s encounter with the primate.
Praise, they say, l had gone to fetch water with her r two older sisters on a bright afternoon of 6th August 2020 in Mparangasi forest, Kyabigambire, Hoima District.
While at the well, the chimp emerged out of the blue, grabbed the 6-year-old and with reflex responses, the older siblings came to rescue.
One of the girls grabbed a stick and continuously beat the chimpanzee to get it to release her sister. It fought back, in jurying the girl in its firm grip.
In the meantime, the girls realized that two other chimpanzees had showed up and sensing danger, they run home, leaving praise behind.
Upon informing their parents, the community organized and started hunting for the girl and her captor.
Luckily, they were able to find her and rescue her from the three chimps. She was taken for medical attention to Bulindi Health Center, where she was treated until full recovery.
The Chimpanzee Trust, a local NGO has since made 3 visits to the family, and chipped in with assistance with support from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Mparangasi is a privately owned riverine forest, home to 22 chimpanzees.
Like many other fragments, communities at the frontline, have an overlap in needs with wildlife and encounters are frequent.
As such strategies to minimize these overlaps, have to continuously be implemented.