Article originally printed in the 2020 Conservation Issue of the Journal of the Elephant Managers Association

The Recovery of Murchison Falls National Park and its Impact on Megaherbivore Numbers

Derek Lubangakene, Uganda Conservation Foundation, Uganda

IEF has supported the construction of ten ranger stations, both land and marine, a veterinary facility, and the Joint Operations Command Center (JOCC) in Murchison Falls Conservation Area in a partnership with the Uganda Conservation Foundation.

Before the 1970s, Murchison Falls National Park was home to Africa’s highest biomass of elephants and other megaherbivores. Subsequent decades
of political insecurity, and a twenty-year insurgency under the Lord’s Resistance Army, led to an unprecedented decline in elephant populations and wildlife numbers across board. Elephants were widely poached and their ivory was traded for arms, and as such, elephant populations dropped from 16,000 in the 1960s to less than 1,000 in early 2000s.

Even after security was reinstated, the park still faced the problem of having less-than-adequate investment in Uganda Wildlife Authority’s (UWA) ability to effectively manage its estate. This was further compounded by the return of human settlement in the region. Exploitation of park resources drastically increased, and so did instances of crop-raiding and human–wildlife conflict, problems that the park still faces to this day.