Kapeeka Integrated Community Development Association’s Secretary General, Enegu Mustafa on the left and former forest encroacher now bee famer, Mzee Arioo Emmy.
Members of the community bordering Budongo Central Forest Reserve which is home to 530 chimpanzees have been empowered and sensitized to protect the attractive wildlife.
Before 2012, Members of Kapeeka community in Masindi district were in persistent conflict with National Forestry Authority over intrusion into the wildlife habitat to carry out activities like farming, timber cutting and others.
Government’s efforts to align human population to appreciate alternative economic activities outside forest were constrained by inadequate resources.
In 2012, Jane Goodall Institute (JDI) established presence in the area to implement the agreement signed by NFA on behalf of government, and the community under Kapeeka Integrated Development Association (KIDA) that needed alternative livelihood support.
According to KIDA Secretary General, Eneku Mustafa, the community has no abhorrence to the chimpanzees but people were intruding the forest to look for survival.
“People had nothing to do then but things have changed now and we understand the importance of forest to biodiversity mainly chimpanzees. Introduction of bee farming and others and linking us to direct to the market have significantly addressed our problems,” he said.
Established in Uganda in 1991, Jane Goodall Institute’s primary role is to ensure long term conservation and protection of chimpanzees and their forest habitats through enhancing the national and local institutions to be effective custodian of the endangered ape.
JDI Conservationist, Robert Gonza told journalists during a visit to Budongo Forest that the population of chimpanzee had worryingly reduced in the area.
“Chimpanzees were disappearing because of rampant human activities in the forest. We have come with programs like healthy habitat, sustainable livelihoods, protection and respect for apes, environmental education, applied technology and conservation to reverse the adverse effects of human encroachment.