Uganda has an extraordinary natural beauty and significant untapped tourism potential.

From the highest mountain range in Africa — the Mountains of the Moon — to the mighty Nile, Uganda is filled with natural beauty.

So, it’s only natural that there is a variety of wildlife and flora found within the country’s boundaries. More than half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas, over 1,000 bird species, along with seven out of the 18 plant kingdoms, and more than 340 mammal species find sanctuary in Uganda.

Uganda is also home to many vast lakes, including Lake Kyoga, Lake Albert, and one of the world’s biggest lakes, Lake Victoria, in the south. Lake Victoria is so massive, it prevents the temperature from varying and helps increase rainfall.

Climate varies depending on where people live. In Southern Uganda, it is wetter, with rain throughout the year. Northern Uganda has a dry climate and is more prone to droughts.

The country houses an abundance of natural resources, such as fertile soil, copper, and cobalt, as well as untapped reserves of crude oil and natural gas. Despite these rich natural resources, Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 50 percent of the population living on about US$ 3.10 a day. It also has the second-youngest population in the world.

The Challenge Today

Human-wildlife conflict is threatening Uganda’s wildlife populations.

Uganda has a large human population puts people and wildlife into frequent contact.

In Murchison Aswa Falls Conservancy, a community-owned wildlife conservancy north of Murchison Falls National Park supported by AWF, it has been reported that about 80 to 90 percent of crops are lost to elephants in the westernmost part of the conservancy — which is mostly occupied by farms and settlements. This typically causes tension between communities and wildlife, ultimately resulting in retaliatory killings.

These conflicts are some of Uganda’s biggest conservation challenges.

Many impoverished families struggle to send their children to school.

Uganda’s women work considerably longer hours than men, 12 to 15 hours a day compared to the average male working eight to ten hours a day.

Because impoverished families have greater difficulty supporting their children, girls tend to drop out of school to work or get married. This has led to a particularly high illiteracy rate in Uganda, especially among girls. Also, access to quality education is lacking, and children often find themselves in an overcrowded school system.

Rhinos were historically abundant but are no longer found in some of Uganda’s parks.

Rhinos used to roam in abundance in Murchison Falls National Park but are no longer found there. Poaching for bushmeat is also reported to be rampant within the park, with poachers coming primarily from surrounding villages across the Nile and the main highway.

While the bushmeat is used for domestic consumption and is sold in small markets within the area, the impact remains quite high and is one of the reasons why wildlife does not cross the corridor from Murchison to the nearby Murchison Aswa Falls Conservancy.

Uganda is not a significant target for ivory poaching, as elephant populations have drastically declined; however, traffickers export their illegal wildlife products from Uganda’s international airport to the Middle East and Asia.

Meeting the Challenge

Our solutions to protecting Uganda's unique biodiversity:

In the Field
Canine detection units and technology stem poaching and wildlife trafficking.

With support from the United States Agency for International Development, African Wildlife Foundation was able to train teams of handlers and sniffer dogs to intercept wildlife contraband, including ivory, passing through Uganda’s international airport.

By introducing Cyber Tracking and SMART technology to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, we are also able to improve their capabilities to accurately monitor wildlife populations and human activity within park boundaries.  

Expanding access to quality education in Kidepo Valley National Park.

Since AWF has been working with Kidepo Valley National Park, located in the northern part of the country, there has been significant progress in conservation work and engagement with the surrounding communities.

This includes improved access to quality education for the communities living in and around key wildlife area. Through AWF’s Classroom Africa initiative, AWF rehabilitated the school within Kidepo to provide students the opportunities of quality education and resources in exchange for the local community’s participation in conservation.

Mitigating human-elephant conflicts through sustainable agriculture.

In 2015 and 2016, through the support of United States Agency for International Development, AWF organized training for local farmers on how to safely deter elephants from raiding their crops through sustainable chili farming. These innovative techniques not only prevent human-elephant conflict but are also a source of sustainable livelihood for farmers.

AWF improved livelihoods by engaging local landowners and communities in wildlife-friendly land uses and enterprises furthering the importance of utilizing natural resources rather than unsustainable resource extraction.

Community Involvement
Wildlife tourism provides revenue for communities while protecting key species.

AWF is helping the government of Uganda establish wildlife tourism in its existing protected areas to narrow the significant financial gap for Uganda’s protected areas. Sustainable wildlife tourism brings much-needed funding for conservation efforts, but also provides communities with tangible financial benefits as a result of conservation. AWF, with financial support from USAID, is also helping to improve park infrastructure and engage communities in wildlife enterprises.

Nestled on top of the Nteko Ridge, above the lush rainforests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park rests Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge. To promote conservation efforts and to minimize human-gorilla conflict, AWF helped establish this high-end tourism enterprise to bring in income for the community from gorilla tourism. The Nkuringo community owns and operates the lodge, which is unprecedented in Uganda. The lodge has significantly benefited the community as while simultaneously providing significant conservation incentive.