Local human communities within Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) were surveyed to determine prevalent attitudes toward lion conservation efforts and Uganda Wildlife Authority’s (UWA’s) Revenue Sharing Program. Other objectives of the surveys were to obtain information about the frequency and conditions where the human-lion conflict occurred in QENP communities, the nature and extent of the consequences, and the communities’ perception of the main causes of human-lion conflict and their proposed conflict mitigation solutions. A further aim was to determine the effects of the UWA’s Revenue Sharing Program and the economic development projects funded by this program in terms of improving local communities’ attitudes toward lion conservation and the prevalent attitudes toward the Park itself.
The majority of the survey respondents had frequently seen and heard lions in their communities and was aware of human-lion conflict in their own community or in a nearby village. Their support for lion conservation was mainly due to the respondents’
perceived economic benefits from QENP’s foreign currency revenue and UWA’s Revenue Sharing Program. Despite community support for lion conservation, under the current noncompensated lion predation scenario, the majority of the surveyed community members would consider a lethal retaliatory action against the lions as “justified” or “acceptable.”
Prevalent attitudes of the respondents toward the Park officials and their general activities were positive. In terms of Park officials’ responsiveness to human-lion conflict, most survey respondents considered Park officials as mostly slow in responding to their call for emergency help and generally unresponsive to the community demand for the compensation of damages caused by Park lions.
Survey respondents were aware of the Park’s Community Conservation (CC) program. Among various CC policies, they particularly favored the Revenue Sharing Program whereby 20% of the Park revenue is shared among the communities within or neighboring the Park buffer villages. Such projects as adding two to three classrooms to overcrowded schools, building small health units, or supplying freshwater were very popular among the surveyed communities. The cost and execution of these projects were, however, disappointing to many respondents. The majority of the communities surveyed described these projects to be incomplete and generally of substandard quality. Many community leaders faulted their district and subcounty administrations for the inadequacy and mismanagement of these projects. Communities did not hold either UWA or the Park officials responsible for the low quality or the incomplete status of
these projects. But when they were asked to select the beneficial effects of the Park, many responded that the Park benefits were not fully visible in their communities.
Human Subjects Review Board (HSRB) Note
This work was approved by the UWA and conducted under the supervision of the QENP Office of Research and Monitoring. Before conducting the community surveys, questionnaires were reviewed and approved by Dr. Margaret Driciru, the QENP Warden of Research and Monitoring. They were also reviewed and commented on by Mr. Benm Mugerwh, Warden of Community Conservation, and reviewed and discussed with the local LC1 and LC2 (community Local Council chairpersons). At the start of each survey/interview, survey respondents were informed about the purely academic nature of the work and were given the option to skip any or all questions to which they did not wish to respond. A more detailed description of the survey methodology is given in Sections 4 and 5 of this report. The application for George Mason University Human Subjects Review Board (HSRB) approval was submitted only after the completion of the QENP surveys.