By Ronald Musoke
The first findings of a project that aims to help low-income communities benefit more from living near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where conservation priorities can impose limits on their livelihoods has dispelled perceptions that poor people who live closer to the park pose a danger to wildlife conservation efforts.
Researchers from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) alongside other partners who met in Kampala from Sept. 17-18 noted that there are complex links between poverty and threats to wildlife.
The project has found that while poverty often compels people to gather resources illegally from the park, the poorer villagers were likely to collect minor forest products such as firewood.
In comparison, the bushmeat hunters - who pose a greater threat to conservation - were amongst the wealthier members of their communities.
"The common assumption - that poverty drives people to use resources illegally - is over-simple," says project coordinator Andy Gordon-Maclean, a researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development.
"The links between poverty and threats to wild species are more complex and it is critical that conservationists understand this."
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to 400 of the world's total population of 900 mountain gorillas and tourists pay US $ 500 for a chance to see these apes. Therefore the potential for local people to benefit is clear. More....