From Wildlife to Local Communities: Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organisation
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.
Through my MSc degree in wildlife health and management at Makerere University, I learned 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, I gained an understanding of the long-term effects of human disturbances in Murchison Falls National Park.
But this is just one of my interests. I founded the Elgon Wildlife Conservation Organisation (EWCO) 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. EWCO’s work has gained recognition from the Conservation Optimism, ATBC, and Amphibian Survival Alliance (which nominated Dr Watuwa as one of their future leaders of amphibian conservation).
I started my career in wildlife medicine and conservation by volunteering, and I would be grateful to give the same opportunity to others. That’s why EWCO welcomes interns, volunteers and researchers to Uganda. If you are interested, visit our website and contact us for more information.
DETAILS OF EWCO’s PROGRAMS
EWCO is a registered grassroots nonprofit conservation organization in Uganda, working to ensure the delicate balance between environment, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in indigenous communities around protected areas.
To promote biodiversity conservation through community engagement, recognising the importance of engaging people in protecting wildlife, while supporting sustainable development using a holistic and multi-disciplinary One Health approach, both of which are critical for the conservation of wildlife.
EWCO envisions a world where nature, wildlife and human beings co-exist peacefully.
Our Core Values
True to our vision we believe that people are an important part of any ecosystem. Without healthy and economically secure communities around our protected areas, the areas remain under threat from overgrazing, hunting and other threats.
EWCO uses a unique approach of conservation through community development to achieve our vision. We work to improve the quality of life in surrounding communities by providing education, health services, safe water, vocational training and sustainable resource use skills in these impoverished and most densely populated regions around protected areas in Uganda.
To promote sustainable conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem health, and species genetic variation of protected areas in Uganda through community engagement, research, agro-forestry and advocacy.
To promote economic empowerment and entrepreneurship skills for women, vulnerable children and youth at household level through self-help projects, apprenticeship training and enterprise development for indigenous communities around protected areas in Uganda.
To promote sustainable conservation of natural resources for the well-being of humanity and sustainable development.
To promote gender education necessary for advancing gender equity and equality in all its forms in indigenous communities around protected areas in Uganda.
To provide support for research and ecological monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of biodiversity conservation and development.
Wildlife Research, Health Monitoring and Conservation
We aim to promote the conservation of wildlife with an emphasis on gorillas, elephants, amphibians and reptiles throughout the entire home range while addressing all ecosystem issues that sustain co-existence of wildlife, humans, and livestock. These include ecological studies of specific species, trans-boundary movements, migration corridors and human-animal conflicts, interactions between species, and climate change. Such studies are not science for the sake of science, but rather help pave the way for better-informed conservation management decisions and thus the sustainability of Africa’s wildlife and wilderness areas.
Anti-Poaching Initiatives & Support for Rangers to combat illegal wildlife crime
Hands-on management contributes to the survival of both individual species and their endangered habitats. EWCO supports a number of anti-poaching entities and assists in further management initiatives, such as offering logistical support to rangers to rangers in anti-poaching patrols, training rangers on using SMART software to monitor illegal activities in the parks and how to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts. We also work with known reformed poachers in Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks to engage them in meaningful alternative livelihood programs.
Community Health, Empowerment and Education
EWCO works in frontline indigenous communities bordering protected areas to promote access to health and family planning services along with education and entrepreneurship skills building. We promote access to safe water and sanitation services while also aiding economic empowerment.
Climate change mitigation initiatives
The occurrence of landslides and floods in East Africa has increased over the past decades with enormous Public Health implications and massive alterations in the lives of those affected. In Uganda, the Elgon region is reported to have the highest occurrence of landslides and floods making this area vulnerable. EWCO is working to initiate community projects aimed at mitigating landslides in this region and the country at large.
To promote the conservation of the amphibians and reptiles and their natural ecosystems and implement positive change in human attitudes towards the amphibian and reptilian diversity in Uganda.