Wild West Wildlife, Landscapes and Development for Conservation

Raising awareness about great apes in Uganda
Key Staff Members: 

The Wild West Project is a collaboration between the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to support biodiversity conservation and improve natural resource management in northern and western Uganda.

The Wild West Project:

  • Improves the quality and quantity of environmental education taught in schools;
  • Increases local community awareness about conservation and the plight of great apes and other endangered wildlife communities;
  • Increases the capacity to monitor great ape health and to carry out interventions in target populations;
  • Establishes mechanisms to advance disease detection, control and prevention in great ape populations; and
  • Improves access to health care for human communities living around the Budongo Forest Reserve.

Background

Uganda is one of the most biologically diverse countries in Africa. Much of the country’s biodiversity is concentrated in the forests in the west of the country. Unfortunately, over the past century, the country has suffered massive forest degradation and deforestation as a result of logging and agriculture.  

The forests are under increasing threat from growing commercial demands and from rural communities whose high levels of poverty make them dependent on forest resources for their livelihood. This rampant poverty is accompanied by rapid population growth, which often leads to the unsustainable use of natural resources by those trying to survive.

In addition to mounting pressure on the great apes’ forest habitat, the threat of disease transmission between chimpanzees and humans constitutes an ongoing threat to the species' survival in the wild.  Hunting in the country also continues to threaten the long-term survival of chimpanzees. Hunters use snares and “man traps” in order to catch animals such as wild pigs, duikers and other ungulates. However, since these traps are not selective, non-target species such as chimpanzees often get trapped and injured or killed as a result.

JGI’s Strategy in Uganda

JGI’s strategy in Uganda is to ensure long-term conservation and protection of chimpanzees through empowering and enhancing national and local institutions to become effective custodians of this endangered great ape. This is achieved through implementing an array of activities that focus on three major areas:  conservation education, habitat protection and chimpanzee welfare. The first two areas not only support the conservation of chimpanzees but of many other species as well.

Key Project Activities:

  • Hold training workshops in environmental education for primary school teachers;
  • Develop, pilot and supply environmental education teachers' guides to schools;
  • Establish a mobile veterinary unit for carrying out field monitoring and interventions;
  • Develop a cadre of wildlife veterinarians in the field of great ape health;
  • Establish a collaborative agreement between various stakeholders on the long-term health monitoring of chimpanzees; and
  • Implement a monitoring program with emphasis on disease transmission between great apes and humans in the Budongo Central Forest Reserve of Uganda.

Highlights

  • Produced and distributed 10,000 copies of elementary school teachers’ resource books, which integrate environmental education messages into each subject;
  • Printed and distributed 60,000 environmental educational posters in 11 districts;
  • Recruited and trained seven veterinarians and established a mobile field veterinary unit;
  • Renovated five health centers that provide medical services to more than 80,000 community members living near the Budongo Central Forest Reserve;
  • Installed solar lights and five solar fridges in renovated health centers to provide light for health workers so they can provide medical services at night and vaccinate communities against diseases as measles, TB, DPT and polio – all of which are transmittable to chimpanzees;
  • Reached community members in more than 41 villages with educational and awareness-raising messages on  diseases such as HIV/AIDs, malaria, Ebola, whopping cough, measles, sleeping sickness, pneumonia hepatitis B, diphtheria and polio. The campaigns were geared toward improving health and preventing wildlife/human disease exchange.
  • Printed and distributed 30,000 posters and 30,000 leaflets on HIV/AIDs and malaria;
  • Reached 740+ Budongo forest community members with educational messages on conservation, forest, wildlife, soil, water, waste management, health and sanitation; and
  • Printed and distributed 40,000 posters about tree, water, soil and biodiversity conservation.

This project is made possible by the generous contributions and support from the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Wildlife Conservation Society, the Jane Goodall Institute-Canada, the Jane Goodall Institute-Holland, the Jane Goodall Institute-Australia, Uganda Wildlife Education Center, Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, and the Budongo Conservation Field Station.  The contents expressed here are the responsibility of the Jane Goodall Institute and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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