On May 24th 2014, the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) was crowned with a visit from the vice chancellor (VC) of Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Professor Frederick Kayanja. The ITFC staff led by the director Dr. Robert Bitariho and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Bwindi officials cordially received the VC. The UWA officials present were Mr. John Justice Tibesigwa (senior warden in charge Bwindi) and Mr. James Busiku (warden Ruhija sector).
During his one-day visit, the ITFC and UWA staff were honored to informal discussions with the VC. The VC stated that since its inception 23 years ago, ITFC has been on the front line of bringing attention to the otherwise ignored conservation and social aspects of research within communities and the national park. ITFC has continuously and thoroughly delivered research output to UWA and other policy makers to guide them in sustainable conservation and management of Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks.
The VC appreciated the good work done and described ITFC as a ‘reliable friend’. He encouraged continued partnerships with other institutions such as the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and UWA in order to achieve its set goals. He emphasized that partnerships speed up realization of more research work and paves way for new development agendas. He also informed the attentive crowd of MUST’s full support to ITFC and its staff. The VC later made a short-guided tour around the ITFC campus. The tour was closed with a warmly served lunch at the director’s residence. Below are the pictorial highlights of the VC’s visit to ITFC.
The ITFC director shows the VC a selection of peer-reviewed published researches from Bwindi and ITFC.
The VC on a guided tour to the ethno-botanical garden
The ITFC and UWA staff pose for a group photo with the VC
Duncan and Badru
The raison d’être why Gorillas are spilling over to community land are not yet known despite the rich diversity of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Bwindi). In rejoinder to human wildlife conflict between the communities of Nkuringo and the Mountain Gorillas and other fauna in Bwindi, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) together with its partners including the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), ITFC, Nkuringo Community Conservation Development Fund (NCCDF), Kisoro District Local Government (KLG) came together to generate yet another strategic management plan for the next five years (2014-2018).
ITFC’s very own Medard Twinamatsiko who is a member of the planning committee fully participated in a week closed door planning session in Kisoro. The UWA’s Senior Planning Officer –Richard Kapere and the Senior Warden Southern Sector John Justice Tibesigwa facilitated the sessions. Other members included; Stephen Asuma- Country Representative IGCP, Olivia Biira (Community Conservation Warden-UWA),Raymond Kato-Ecological Monitoring Warden- UWA, Richard Munezero (KDLG), Innocent and Auleria from NCCDF.
The seven days interface was not an easy one but greatly successful. It involved desk reviews and evaluations as well reconnaissance visits to the Nkuringo Buffer zone. The two days of field work were too enjoyable in the beginning but hectic and kawa in the afternoon epoch. It rained cats and dogs with most of the planning team members caught unaware of the somber dropdowns in the hills of Nkuringo. There was hardly any sanctuary for the planning squad and therefore had to succumb to the nature vagaries. Medard and Richard had no choice but to succumb to the heavy down pours since they had not carried water proof jackets. This was a good lesson for the next field day.
Many events were observed by the planning team. These included; the regeneration of the inner zone, the emergency of exotic plant species and poor maintenance of the Mauritius hedge fence by the local communities. Interesting to note was that tea planting has taken a serious route in the outer zone with almost ¾ of the land planted. This activity is being undertaken by National Agriculture Advisory Services through its sub contract- Kigezi Tea Company- a local company. Many local community members have tested on the syrupy dime being offered to plant tea. It was also witnessed that a road is being constructed by the local people to connect to the tea area. Such developments are highly welcomed by the local residents of Nkuringo and are optimistic of future prospects! IGCP is acknowledged for facilitating the planning process with the required logistics. Keep watch on this space!
Reconnaissance field discussions in the outer buffer zone
Raining cats and dogs on the planning team in the outer cleared buffer zone
A tired but not retired team in the newly constructed road down to the buffer zone in Nteko
My warm regards,