The aim of this project is to examine the impact of crop raiding by wildlife on farmers adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Much research has examined the impact of humans on wildlife in this park, but little attention has focused on the impact of wildlife on humans. This project's results will have important implications for future wildlife conservation policies and practices, such as crop raiding protection strategies.
Muyambi Fortunate's project received additional funding through the Zoo's Small Grants program in 2003 and 2004.
Project Update: August 2003
This study focused mainly on crop loss to wildlife and local communities' perceptions on park management around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP). This study was carried out from 1st January 2003-31st June 2003. Systematic monitoring of crop loss to wildlife was carried out in and around BINP for six months. The design was aimed at quantifying the amount of crop loss to wildlife. Interviews were also carried out among the communities to gauge their perceptions of the problem of crop loss to wildlife and to bush pigs in particular.
Systematic monitoring of crop loss to wildlife was also carried out in gardens adjacent to the park boundary in Nteko and Mukono parishes. This revealed that bush pigs, baboons, gorillas and l'Hoest monkeys destroyed up to 13% of the total planted area per season. The distribution of damage was uneven; most crop damage was inflicted on six species of crops, particularly maize, gorilla crop damage was restricted to 200 meters of the park boundary. Damage and loss were highly localized to a narrow band of fields very close to the forest boundary. Fields within 100 meters of the forest boundary experienced the most crop loss. Distances of fields to forest boundary and to nearest bush fallow continuous with forest boundary explain the variation in crop damage, intensity and frequency of crop raiding by baboons, gorillas and monkeys.
Seventy-two farmers between the age of 18 to 90 were interviewed. All the women cultivated for a living while 80% of the men spent three quarters of the daytime working in tea plantations. More than seventy five percent of the farmers interviewed in the parishes of Mukono and Nteko considered bush pigs and baboons to be an agricultural problem. The proportion of farmers reporting a bush pig problem though did not differ significantly between Mukono and Nteko. In both parishes, farmers' estimation of crop loss differed greatly with systematically quantified crop loss by men who spent the least time cultivating registering higher estimates of crops lost. Damage occurred all year round, but farmers regarded the wet season of February to May as being the time of maximum crop loss. When asked if crop-raiding animals had increased in numbers in recent years, eighty seven percent of farmers reporting a problem said yes compared with forty five percent of those not having a bush pig problem.
The majority of farmers interviewed said that bush pigs are a major pest because they come at night in large numbers and can kill people, followed by baboons and gorillas that crop raid to a lesser extent. Thus, these species are regarded as dangerous animals that are able to cause a great deal of damage to people and crops.
Domestic bananas were the crops most raided by gorillas followed by Eucalyptus trees and sweet potatoes. In all gorilla groups, banana pith was most liked. Eucalyptus barks and sweet potato vines were most eaten by Nkuringo gorilla group in Nteko parish. There was no crop raiding done by the unhabituated group.
A number of wildlife control methods are available, but there is not enough information to allow any one method to be recommended. Planting unpalatable (buffer) crops near the forest boundary and live hedges (Mauritius thorn) may offer an effective means of reducing crop raiding.
This research needs to be continued to determine the seasonality of crop raiding and frequency of crop damage by wild animals around BINP. We need to carry out the same study in a different season to compare the crop damage so that we are able to understand the crop raiding pattern.