Uganda Conservation Foundation

Report to donors March 2011

Kibale Corridor *The Dura Recovery Programme

A Partnership between the Uganda Conservation Foundation and Uganda Wildlife Authority

*The Kibale Corridor connects Queen Elizabeth and Kibale Forest National Parks. The Kibale Corridor (KC) project was previously referred to as the Dura recovery project.

Report overview

  • Summary of projects
    • The Waterways project -proven benefits
    • Kibale Corridor recovery -anticipated benefits
  • Progress towards objectives
    • Infrastructure
      1. Kamulikwezi Marine Ranger station operational
      2. Bigger boat (22ft Panga) operational
      3. Kamulikwezi 4 man ranger post operational
      4. Construction of Kasese 6 man ranger post nearing completion
    • Marine ranger training
    • Access –snare removal and cutting back the bush
    • Research
  • Project funding and accountability

Linking Waterways and the Kibale Corridor

  • The focus of the Waterways project in QEPA has been on building and making operational four marine ranger stations, at: Mweya, Rwenshama, Kashaka –and most recently Kamulikwezi. The stations (buildings, patrol boats, engines and equipment) have been handed over to UWA and more than 30 rangers trained in boat handling and operations.
  • UWA’s deployment of boats on a daily basis on anti-poaching patrols is having a significant impact on the ability of law enforcement to reverse elephant and hippopotamus poaching and clamp down on illegal fishing practices. Controlling the waterways is critical to QEPA’s economic and social future, not to mention its flora and fauna in terms of countering bushmeat smuggling and ivory trafficking from the DR Congo.
  • The Waterways project in Central and Northern QECA provides key infrastructure and operational capacity to support law enforcement activties in conjunction with the new Kasese Ranger post.
  • The success of the Waterways project and its ability to tackle illegal activities on remote land areas via water access, is a key element to our efforts to recover the 400km² Kibale Corridor, an area that is fiercely poached, virtually inaccessible and in dire need of greater protection and improved access.

Kibale Corridor connects QE and KF

The Waterways project -proven benefits

  • Using boats for law enforcement is a cultural change for UWA, there are still senior members of UWA who are scared to venture out on the water. This is a common attitude in Uganda (understandable in the context of low sensitisation and no state or other apparatus responsible for rescuing lives on water).
  • Since 2007 UWA has rescued fishermen and recovered bodies in Rwenshama, Kashaka, Mweya and Kamulikwezi and this has translated into a growing support network between the communities and UWA against illegal activities.
  • In 2010 UCF supported UWA’s biannual hippo survey in QEPA. UWA now knows the size and geographic location of the hippo population and is able to target resources and ranger patrolling. The Waterways network of boats was crucial in allowing access to previously uncounted populations of hippos. The boats were also crucial in the clear-up operation following the Anthrax outbreak. A copy of the hippo survey report was sent to donors in 2010.
  • Snares and poacher ‘meat smoking sites’ are now being cleared by patrols along the Ugandan shores of Lake Edward and now all the shorelines of Lake George. The new marine station extends the reach of UWA as far as the remote islands on Lake George, known to be bases for bushmeat smoking, previously inaccessible to law enforcement. This is a major development.

Poaching implements & equipment recovered

  • In the last quarter, rangers have successfully challenged 150 ‘illegal events’, including arresting 32 poachers and 11 being cautioned.
  • The table below provides an indication of the variety of illegal activity the rangers must control.

Kibale Corridor recovery -anticipated benefits

  • 400km2 of prime habitat available to wildlife from KFCA and QECA
  • Dramatic increase in wildlife numbers (inc. endangered species)
  • Protection and recovery of internationally important biodiversity –(Ramsar Site)
  • KC corridor reconnecting the genetic pools of isolated, but large and viable populations of endangered species
  • Release of human pressure on elephant home ranges in central QECA and KFCA, thereby dramatically reducing negative elephant –human interaction
  • Safe migration of animals to utilise the full 400 km2 area via the thin corridor at Muhokya that connects north and south Lake George
  • A motivated ranger force, and greater relationship between UWA and communities
  • Regional social & economic development
  • Integrating new capacity and knowledge into long term plans

Infrastructure – why it’s so important

Since the 1970’s the 400km2 area, 1/4 of QE, has received less that 1% of QECA’s resources available for management. With little to no patrolling, no maintenance of roads or buildings –the area’s infrastructure is now non-existent. Rangers have been demotivated in being posted there and poaching communities have nearly emptied the area of large game. Due to habitat change –access is extremely difficult.

  • Strategically placed infrastructure
  • Long term presence – permanence
  • Positive culture – motivated rangers wanting to be deployed to the area
  • Statement of intent to the poachers

The Kaseseranger accommodation is in the heart of ‘in-land’ KibaleCorridor and provides access up and down three river systems. It is a ‘spring board’ for UWA to launch and sustain law enforcement and monitoring across the region. According to UWA, Kaseseis the biggest stronghold of poachers in the whole of QECA. The KaseseRanger Post will also be a base for the mobile patrol unit of UWA to support the permanently based ranger teams.

  • Infrastructure sends out a strong and clear message –we’re here to stay.

A. Kamulikwezi marine station operational

A. Ranger station signage

B. A bigger (22ft) boat operational

The 22ft ‘panga’ boat is based in Mweyaand is key as it:

  • Is big enough to coordinate between the four ranger stations
  • Is able to carry significantly more people. This had proved to be a limiting factor with the 16ft boats as they were only able to carry 5 people, including the driver. This has limited how many rangers could go on patrol, not least in loading arrested poachers and confiscated items onto the boat.
  • Provides the ability to operate more safely in the bigger waters of Lake Edward. The boat is quiet and strong. Its surface design makes it very stable, an important consideration when loaded with a number of people.
  • It is a fuel efficient boat (far less horsepower is needed to operate the Pangaboats than those of similar length because of its efficient hull design). This is an important consideration for UWA whose resources (even in terms of daily running costs) are very limited.

B. The 22ft Panga Boat and Marine Rangers

C. Kamulikwezi accommodation operational

The Kamulikwezi4 man ranger accommodation postis operational
UWA requested the ranger posts be built out of brick to ensure their sustainability and respect the standards required for the rangers who regularly put their lives on the line to protect elephants.
The installation of a rainwater storage system and Ecosantoilets make the project durable, environmentally sustainable, very low on maintenance costs and good value for money.
The accommodation comprises:

  • Four ranger quarters, eco-san toilet and two shower rooms
  • Rainwater storage system (guttering and closed water tank). In addition to making the construction more sustainable, it means rangers can focus more time on law enforcement rather than fetching water everyday.
  • Access to Kaseseroad by vehicle, into the KC by foot and close access to the lake shore.

D. Kasese accommodation nearing completion

The Kasese 6 man ranger accommodation postis under construction

  • After lengthy discussions and visits, the site was identified 5km north-east of Kasese at Kanyangeya, providing the rangers with access up and down three river systems (Nyamwamba, Rukokiand Mubuku)
  • The Kasese ranger post will be the main ‘in land’ post and is the link in the strategic network
  • The post is approximately 19 km from Kamulikwezi ranger post. Together these two posts provide permanent accommodation to 10 rangers, and provision for water and camping for UWA’s mobile ranger units
  • The accommodation comprises:
    • Six ranger quarters, two Ecosan toilets , two shower block and two kitchen
    • The rainwater storage system will make the post more self-sufficient, in that fewer daytime hours will be wasted fetching and carrying water, thereby enabling more time for patrolling. Rainwater storage system (which will help reduce Malaria by reducing the availability of uncovered water in which the larvae breed).
    • Access to Kasese and Kibale Corridor road by foot or bike. UCF and UWA will employ a community team to help cut open and clear an access route from the ranger post into central Kibale Corridor.

Marine ranger training

Tom Okello, QEPA’s Conservation Area Manager (2005-2010)
The marine ranger training is the most important contribution UCF has made in QEPA.
Before we only had 2 trained marine rangers, now we have more than 30, trained to an international standard.
Any time there is a problem we can call on anyone. In the past, if the two marine rangers were off duty, nothing could be done. Now we have a readily available skilled resource base on call thanks to UCF.
Our capability is improved, and we are able to make a great impact –whilst saving money in our daily operations.”

  • UCF has been training rangers in boat operations since 2006. This is the first exposure UWA operations has ever had working from boats. Most Ugandans cannot swim and associate waterborne activity with great risk. With your support, UCF is helping change this culture.
  • UWA now has 18 coxswain rangers and 5 trainers with Royal Yacht Association certification and 15 rangers trained through the National Lake Rescue Institute. Arrangements for refresher courses for marine rangers are part of our programmeto increase their knowledge base and improve operational effectiveness.

Snare removal and cutting back the bush

  • Work has started to remove snares and dismantle poacher camps and trace smuggling routes in the Kibale Corridor. This will have an immediate impact on the safety of the area for elephants and other wildlife in central QECA where much of the bushmeat is being trafficked from.
  • Snare removal is heavy and dangerous work and we rely on the cooperation of the ex-poachers to show us where they are located.
  • Wire snares are indiscriminate. They hurt , capture and ultimately kill all kinds of animals: feet can become trapped; wire can get tightly wrapped around an elephant’s trunk (as seen on a recent field trip to Ishasha); in neighbouring Kibale, 50% of chimpanzees have limbs missing because of snares.
  • There is a vast volume of snares and they are not necessarily checked, that is to say animals are needlessly being caught and dying because of them. Our aim is to collect and destroy as many of them as we possibly can. And in channels in and out of the area, there should be none at all.

Snare’s are indiscriminate

UWA’s veterinary dept. is sadly very busy

Snare removal and cutting back the bush

  • Large numbers of snares are still set throughout the KC. The rangers continue to find and destroy both newly set and old snares, and now the advantage of working with ex-poacher groups to find the snares
  • Access into the area has been extremely difficult and limiting. Additionally poacher groups know the area far better than the rangers.
  • By employing and working with the poacher groups a great deal of learning has happened, whilst providing them with alternative incomes and opening up access routes to key areas and habitats, for rangers, vehicles and wildlife entering into the area
  • The regeneration of habitat should not be a problem, but the absence of elephant and fire in the area has seen Caparis tomentosa – a thorny creeping species spread over very large areas
  • Cutting and burning access routes through the Caparis has already started in targeted areas to encourage wildlife to access important areas, and to establish natural grazing pressure and fire. So far 16 km has been cut and more are yet to be.
  • As the work progresses throughout the corridor, UCF will establish an internal tented camp, for UWA Mobile Patrols to help clear the area of all snares and poaching camps.

Management Orientated Research

To manage the area sustainably and effectively, in an environment of very limited resources, decisions need to be very carefully targeted and based on understanding key information.

However, the only people who really know the area are the poachers, and little relevant or up to date information or research covers the area.

UCF and UWA want to integrate all plans into Annual Operation Plans, and General Management Plans (these are 10 year plans –currently being written)

UCF is currently undertaking ‘high level’ research to:

  • Provide a baseline to compare and monitor progress
  • Design and implement an elephant management plan
  • Design and implement a habitat management plan
  • Design and implement an advocacy plan

UCF’s Project Officer (Eric) is undertaking this research and it will also contribute to his ‘UCF’ sponsored PhD

Community engagement / sensitisation

By engaging with ex-poachers, UCF and UWA are taking them ‘out of the circuit’. The employment of the older (more experienced) men removes the skill base from the poaching community, denying the younger generation access to their poaching skills and knowledge.

Inevitably some men will return to poaching afterwards but they will be keenly aware of the penalties, increased ranger presence and improved facilities and equipment UWA now have at their disposal.

The opportunity for the men to earn wages (there are few job opportunities in Kasese), UWA and UCF had a captive audience for the anti-poaching message. It was made very clear to everyone working on the site clearance, and therefore to their families and the wider community, that UWA is substantially ramping up its law enforcement operations in the area.

Interestingly, the majority of poachers are positive about stopping poaching. It’s a very dangerous occupation with many risks: from wild animals, risk of being caught by UWA and even risk from other poachers.

An enormous advantage to the community from this project is the capacity to improve and widen the lake rescue services and water safety education. More rangers will have basic search and rescue and first aid training and the forecast improved teamwork and communications should speed up emergency responses. Sensitising the communities to this fact will be integral to UWA’s community relations.

Next steps: Maximizing the ImpactCo-ordinating land and marine operations

It has been noted that each Marine Ranger station and ranger post is still being used in isolation, only generating localisedimpact. Greater impact will be achieved by using the stations as a network, coordinating marine and land-based patrols, increasing operational mobility and capacity and, at the same time, reducing costs.

To date -training has focused on rangers. However, it is now clear that the wardens also need training and mentoring.

This project will integrate the land and water-based patrols of UWA’s operations in QEPA to make a fully operational network, through a combination of training and operational exercises to help:

  • link the Marine Stations into an operational network
  • integrate the land and water borne capacity and operations
  • provide basic training to 20 new Marine Rangers
  • provide Warden training and mentoring
  • provide refresher and advanced courses to existing Marine Stations
  • tie the whole programmeinto operational exercises

Next Steps: Co-ordinating land and marine operations

  • Training will be carried out by a team of Poole Harbour Sea Survival trainers, and UCF will be looking to support them with a retired officer (or two) to work with the wardens throughout the operational exercises.
  • Extending this training to land-based rangers gives them the opportunity to understand how their skills can be used to support their colleagues and how they can work together –and achieve better results -as one team.
  • Team operational exercises give rangers the opportunity to share information. The nature of UWA’s work in the field means that groups of people are very isolated. The high cost of fuel and lack of funds for communication make opportunities for rangers to meet as a group are very rare.
  • Training will include sensitisation of UWA staff at all levels to the greater possibilities for law enforcement offered by a network. Problem-solving and communication skills are an essential element of this, for all levels of the organisation.
  • UCF and UWA are confident in Poole Harbour trainers as they delivered excellent results last time, and delivered good value for money.
  • UCF also need to provide the ranger stations with basic equipment such as bicycles to enable greater mobility and connectivity

Project administration

  • UCF strives to ensure that projects are administered efficiently and professionally.
  • UCF projects benefit from the administration and security of funds carried out by the UCU core team, office and legal and financial set up.
  • All accounts are fully audited each year. Our audited accounts for the 2010 financial year are available on request.
  • UCF looks forward to continuing to provide your organisation with a productive and professional project, administration and reporting experience.
  • We welcome all feedback.
  • Thank you for your continued support. 90% of UCF’s funding goes directly to conservation projects on the ground in Uganda. This would not be possible without your support.


  • Principal investigator
    • Michael Keigwin
    • Uganda Conservation Foundation, P.O. Box 34020, Kampala
    • Tel: +44 7725 813221
    • Email: [email protected]
  • Co-investigators
    • Patrick Agaba, Project Manager
    • Uganda Conservation Foundation, P.O. Box 34020, Kampala
    • Tel: +256 772 480091
    • Email: [email protected]
  • Uganda Wildlife Authority
  • Community Representatives of Kasese including Ex-poachers Committee
  • For more information about our projects please visit and find us on Facebook.