Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization
Projects

WILDLIFE RESEARCH & CONSERVATION

Elgon Wildlife conservation organization works to promote conservation of endangered wildlife with emphasis on African elephants, Amphibians, the great apes(gorillas) and other endangered wildlife throughout the entire home range while addressing all ecosystem issues that sustain co-existence of wildlife, humans, and livestock.

Our goal is to Mainstream biodiversity conservation into development policies, plans and projects to deliver the co-benefits of biodiversity conservation, improved local livelihoods and economic development in communities where we work.
Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization (EWCO) works to ensure the delicate balance between the environments; biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in communities around protected areas in Uganda. 

EWCO works closely with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and  conservation partners to achieve our mission through integrated programs of

1. Wildlife Health monitoring, Research, and Conservation

2. Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade through Ranger training and Logistical support to combat poaching 

3. Gender equality and women’s empowerment for sustainable livelihoods and management of wildlife resources

4.Integrated Conservation with Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) and WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) project

1. AFRICAN ELEPHANT HEALTH MONITORING ,RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION

ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF OIL EXPLORATION ACTIVITIES ON STRESS LEVELS AND DISEASE BURDEN IN AFRICAN ELEPHANTS IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK .

COLLECTING BLOOD SAMPLE FROM AN AFRICAN ELEPHANT IN MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK .

A typical day in the field for me might include rescuing a snared elephant, collaring a lion or surveying mountain gorilla populations for the Ugandan and Rwandan governments. Taking care of animals has been a part of my life since childhood and my love for wildlife inspired me to become a veterinarian.

After graduating as a veterinary surgeon from Makerere University I became concerned about how oil exploration might affect wildlife, particularly the wellbeing of elephants. I believe that the oil industry has great potential to contribute to Uganda’s economic development, but at the same time the activities involved in exploration and development can have detrimental impacts on sensitive ecosystems.

EWCO is researching and learning about the increased stress and susceptibility to diseases of elephants as a result of human activity. By studying the stress hormones and parasite burdens of elephants, EWCO will generate information and understanding of the long-term effects of human disturbances in Murchison Falls National Park to guide conservation management

COLLECTING FECAL SAMPLE FOR PARASITOLOGY

In the dense forests of Uganda , endangered elephants are difficult to study and protect because they are so difficult to see. We use automated sound-recording equipment to collect their vocalizations.

Tracking of African Elephants with Wildlife Conservation Society staff in Murchison Falls National Park

This gives our Project and local biologists valuable information about elephant numbers, movements, and communication. We use this information to improve our understanding of elephants and to protect their dwindling numbers from poaching and disturbance from logging and seismic energy exploration.

.But this is just one of my interests.  Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organisation  (EWCO) was founded to help the cause of wildlife in Uganda. One of our key focuses is on amphibian and reptile conservation, which has been at the forefront of identifying and conservation of amphibian species and promoting knowledge of them in Ugandan communities

AMPHIBIAN CONSERVATION AND RESEARCH

Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization (EWCO) is  Uganda’s first non profit organization dedicated exclusively to amphibian conservation. EWCO protects conservation of endangered amphibians through research, conservation education, habitat restoration, advocacy and community engagement, including provision of alternative livelihoods to reduce pressure on habitat resource use.

Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization is working in partnership with AMPHIBIAN SURVIVAL ALLIANCE (ASA) and THE AMPHIBIAN FOUNDATION

EWCO currently is among the three organizations representing the Afrotropical region on the AMPHIBIAN SURVIVAL ALLIANCE Global Council which is the primary decision-making body of the ASA between meetings of the ASA Assembly, providing strategic direction to the operations and structure of the Alliance.

EWCOs motivation to undertake amphibian conservation in Uganda is to develope relevant skills in amphibian conservation. EWCO was awarded The Future Leaders of Amphibian Conservation award by Amphibian Survival Alliance in 2019.This award is awarded in memory of Dr. George B. Rabb (1930-2017), a great supporter of amphibians and all those who care for them​.

This program is an annual award to a number of early career conservationists from around the world who have been identified as Future Leaders of Amphibian Conservation. We are looking for individuals in the early stages of their career who have evidence of contributing to successful conservation initiatives in the past, and who wish to conduct or continue with a particular conservation project or research agenda that will directly improve the survival of amphibians in the wild and is particularly keen to attract applications from delegates in developing countries.

The award  also provided  Future Leaders with a grant to attend and present at Amphibian Conservation Research Symposium in that year, as well as on-going mentorship via the ACRS Steering Committee and a community of Future Leaders alumni. To date ASA provides EWCP (Future Leaders ) with the tools to build a support network of experts, organisations and funders that will help them achieve their conservation goals and, most importantly, become the next generation of prominent researchers in amphibian conservation.

EWCO’s work has gained recognition from the Conservation Optimism,, and Amphibian Survival Alliance (which nominated Dr Watuwa as one of their future leaders of amphibian conservationhttps://www.amphibians.org/what-we-do/acrs/future-leaders-award/.

CITIZEN SCIENCE FOR AMPHIBIAN CONSERVATION

Through our amphibian conservation program , EWCO volunteers can contribute  to protected and conserved areas data and information management (updating, use and contribution to databases)through Our  Herp mapper project https://www.elgonwildlifeconservation.org/ewco-herpmapper-uganda/ which uses on online platform through a phone application to gather data on amphibians and reptiles .

HerpMapper Uganda is a citizen science project of Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization designed to gather and share information about amphibian and reptile observations across Uganda.

EWCO is using HerpMapper to create records of  herp observations(Frogs, Toads, Snakes, Lizards, Tortoise)and keeps them all in one place by submitting observations or images in turn,  data is made available to HerpMapper Partners /groups who use recorded observations for raising conservation awareness, research, conservation, and preservation purposes.

Our observations are making valuable contributions on the behalf of amphibians and reptiles. The goal of HerpMapper Uganda is use technology to Map amphibian and reptile distributions through time in Uganda Task is to Collect amphibian and reptile observations submitted through photos taken from anywhere in Uganda and global 

EWCO recently developed our first strategic plan to guide us over the next five years. This proposal to the Save Our Species program is one component among the many included in our strategic plan.  Its no doubt EWCO greatly requires the contribution of volunteers to achieve our goals, objectives, and mission.

Our project combines basic research, awareness raising, citizen science, and conservation activities. We propose a broad investigation that allows updating conservation and amphibian disease status.
We aim to expand scientific knowledge on the ecology of the least concern and endangered amphibian species: create a baseline of home ranges, population densities, habitat characterization and habitat use patterns. We are intending to build a platform for amphibian citizen science project for the first time in Uganda

Elgon Amphibian and Reptile conservation project works towards the conservation of the critically threatened and poorly known amphibians and reptiles /herps in protected areas of Uganda.

Elgon Amphibian and Reptile conservation project works towards the conservation of the critically threatened and poorly known amphibians and reptiles /herps in protected areas of Uganda.

EWCO is also working in collaboration with Amphibian Ark and Amphibian Survival Alliance and The Amphibian Foundation  to establish the first ex-situ breeding program for amphibians in Uganda, Conduct a national Conservation Needs Assessment for Uganda and consequently develope the first Amphibian Conservation Action for Uganda.

Our project combines basic research, awareness raising, citizen science, and conservation activities. We propose a broad investigation that allows updating conservation and amphibian disease status.

We aim to expand scientific knowledge on the ecology of the least concern and endangered amphibian species: create a baseline of home ranges, population densities, habitat characterization and habitat use patterns. We are intending to build a platform for amphibian citizen science project for the first time in Uganda.

3. PRIMATE/MOUNTAIN GORILLA RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION

PARTICIPATION IN BWINDI -SARAMBWE MOUNTAIN GORILLA CENSUS 2018

Certificate of participation in Bwindi-Sarambwe Mountain gorilla census 2018

Every 5 years or so, the governments of Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) work together with gorilla conservation partners to do a complete population count, or census, of mountain gorillas. The Bwindi –Sarambwe mountain gorilla census in 2018 helped provide an accurate estimate of the number of mountain gorillas living in the world, this activity saw the downgrade of mountain gorilla census from critically endangered to endangered.

During this period EWCO co- founder while James Watuwa while representing CTPH was a team lead assistant in this great activity of mountain gorilla census that was coordinated by International Gorilla Conservation Program and other conservation partners and was consequently recognized as per participation certificate attached in the email.

 Periodic censuses of endangered populations of high-profile species help us to understand their population dynamics, to assess the success of conservation programs aimed at ensuring their survival, and to ensure that they received attention from the global conservation community.

 I took part in Particular activities and experience that are relevant to protected and conserved areas data and information management including updating, use and contribution to databases can be attributed to the roles that were involved in this census as follows

Leading the Census team systematically sweeping through the forest identifying and following gorilla trails counting night nests, and collecting gorilla fecal samples.

• Making note and using devices to record any observations of signs of other large mammals (like forest elephants)

• Identifying and recording evidence of illegal activities taking place in the park and reserve (like snares)

• Preserving gorilla fecal samples in ethanol so that they can be analyzed for host DNA to calculate an accurate count of the number of individual gorillas in the population.

• Using the topographic maps, along with GPS, compass and altimeter readings to map as accurately as possible all paths taken and gorilla trails followed.

• Taking GPS readings every 250 m along the trail, to ensure that it can be accurately mapped.

Inspired to finding solutions to conservation challenges in Uganda through skills relevant to addressing some of Uganda’s most urgent animal health, wildlife and conservation priorities by offering  conservation   extension support to protected area frontline communities in Uganda , I co-founded  Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization with a mission to promote biodiversity and wildlife conservation through community engagement, recognizing the importance of engaging people in protecting wildlife, while supporting sustainable development using a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach  both of which are critical for the conservation of wildlife.

EWCO TEAM AFTER TRAINING UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY RANGERS IN BWINDI

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, covering 32,092 ha, is one of the largest areas in East Africa which still has Afromontane lowland forest extending to well within the montane forest belt. Located on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley and believed to be a Pleistocene refugium, the park is a biodiversity hotspot.

It is also host to a rich fauna including almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population, the park represents a conservation frontline as an isolated forest of outstanding biological richness surrounded by an agricultural landscape supporting one of the highest rural population densities in tropical Africa.

Community benefits arising from the mountain gorilla and other ecotourism may be the only hope for the future conservation of this unique site.
Living around the park are some of the country’s poorest and most isolated indigenous communities locally called the Batwa .

The social status of Batwa characterized by marginalization and discrimination embedded in the social, economic and political structure up to today due to their physical appearance and life style as forest dwellers among others.

Most of this front line communities are characterized with limited access to healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene and economic services, and where healthcare facilities and people are far less equipped to control or effectively treat infections, zoonotic diseases including COVID19 and as such consequences of zoonotic diseases could be grave

They rely on the park’s natural resources to feed their families and mainly ecotourism business that is now threatened and thus unsustainable use of natural resources from the park, despite its status as a protected area, exacerbates wildlife wellbeing and adversely affects human socio-economic outcomes. This further poses threats such as poaching and habitat encroachment to already endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife

The management of the park has developed ecotourism programmes that support community livelihoods, a major reason for community support. The Park is a model for integration of community sustainable resource management in the country and possibly in the East African Region.

However, there are still strong long-term needs for mountain gorilla protection given the increasing threats from zoonotic diseases and poaching . As the mountain gorilla is genetically closely related to people, it is also threatened by the transmission of human diseases . Continued enhancement of conservation is required in law enforcement and monitoring.

CONSERVATION CHALLENGES

Subsistence farming is the primary reason for poaching around Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and poverty is the main driver because people are unable to own or buy their own resources due to lack of money/ financial support. Poor conservation attitudes to the park also play a secondary role. The resources most commonly collected from this Parks without authorization are bush meat, firewood, medicinal plants, poles and honey. Poaching in Bwindi is mainly by snaring. Despite the fact that the key species in Bwindi are not targeted, snares can accidentally trap an untargeted wildlife therefore there is need for community sensitization and provision of sustainable alternative sources of livelihoods and educing human and gorilla conflict is also crucial in protecting mountain gorillas .

OUR APPROACH

Elgon Wildlife conservation organization Our goal is to Mainstream biodiversity conservation into development policies, plans and projects to deliver the co-benefits of biodiversity conservation, improved local livelihoods and economic development in communities where we work.

We also promote one health research initiatives at the interface of ecosystem, animal, and human health that address local conservation challenges and emerging diseases,

Implementing activities that reduce negative interactions between people and gorillas including preventing and controlling cross species disease transmission and reducing human and wildlife conflict.

COMBATING ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE THROUGH RANGER TRAINING&LOGISTICAL SUPPORT TO COMBAT POACHING /ANTI POACHING INITIATIVES

EWCO brings on board ’ experience in building sustainable opportunities for communities, and saving wildlife and natural ecosystems simultaneously. Working in collaboration with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) since its founding, EWCO has trained Uganda Wildlife Rangers in Crime scene investigation, Evidence gathering , Forensic sample collection ,Statement writing and monitoring illegal wildlife crime including poaching in Bwindi National park and surrounding communities To date EWCO is working   in collaboration with Uganda Wildlife Authority to reduce human-related threats to mountain gorillas by training and offering logistical support to rangers to combat poaching, engaging reformed poachers in sustainable alternative livelihoods and monitoring the impact of extractive industries and ecotourism on African elephant and other wildlife stress levels and health in Uganda

ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE & POACHING THREATS TO WILDLIFE

Poaching and illicit trafficking of wildlife are among the 5 most lucrative illegal trades globally, earning at least $19 billion annually. Wildlife trafficking devastates populations of wildlife species, threatens global security, and undermines national development .works at the local, national, regional and international levels to combat poaching and wildlife trafficking. Elgon Wildlife conservation organization support focuses on 3 areas: strengthening law enforcement and advocacy for policies favorable to the environment, working with local communities to create jobs and support livelihoods, and helping reduce demand for illegally traded wildlife.

Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization is training and offering logistical support to rangers to combat poaching

RANGER TRAINING ON EVIDENCE GATHERING AT CRIME SCENES

Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization raises awareness about the devastating effects of poaching bush meat hunting in critical wildlife dispersal areas near and outside of wildlife protected areas including community conserved areas.

We do this in partnership with Uganda wildlife Authority, Uganda wildlife and Conservation Education Center and other conservation organizations through rescuing animals trapped with wire snares and injured by the same in various known hotspots for bush meat hunting in protected areas in Uganda. Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization and local stakeholders rescue wild animals  trapped by wire snares while also mopping up substantial volumes of live and dead wire traps in the surveyed regions.

MITIGATING HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICTS

This program area is largely informed by the various forms of reported human-animal conflict. Generally, as a result of; the presence of environmental degradation, encroachment and increased land fragmentation has resulted in an incremental trend in cases of human-animal conflict globally. In Africa, and based on several underlying factors; whether social, economic, technological and/or environmental nature, such cases often result in destruction of property or loss of biodiversity through habitat destruction or destabilization of the ecosystems’ equilibria. In some cases, loss of human life has been observed through violent/active involvement of animals or via passive/indirect routes such as zoonotic disease spread.

Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization works with government and like-minded stakeholders to carry out interventions that contribute to maintaining a balance between various human practices and animal survival (biodiversity conservation). Our focus on communities is generally geared towards innovative use of technology to provide solutions to causes of conflict and placement of affordable mitigation measures in addition to training park management staff

Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization is working with reformed /ex-poachers to affer them sustainable alternative livelihoods to deter poaching including mushroom growing, Bee keeping and farming among other projects

EWCOS VEGETABLE GROWING PROJE CT FOR EX-POACHERS WIVES IN BWINDI

We aim to contribute towards recruitment and remuneration for local guardians to provide security and community liaison between the ranch and the local land owners. As a result, illegal bush meat hunting will be reduced, fewer wild animals are being poached for meat and community goodwill has increased through co-operating-responsibility activities such as the community conservation sports league.

EWCO PROMOTES SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE TO IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY FOR FOREST DEPENDENT COMMUNITIES

RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY

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Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organization is a member organization of Phages For Global Health -East African Research Team . .Motivated by the deficit of phage experts in Africa and Asia – regions where 90% of deaths caused by antibiotic resistance occur – Phages for Global Health is on a mission through training phage expertis in combating cross species antimicrobial resistance in overlapping populations of humans, endangered wildlife species and livestock in and around protected areas in Uganda and Africa .

East Africa Phage working research group 2018

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Dr. James Watuwa and Professor Erume Joseph during phage isolation training

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