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Cell Phone - +256 701 483088 [email protected]

Human movements in and around Rwenzori Mountains

Human movements in and around Rwenzori Mountains

Before the establishment of colonial boundaries between Congo and Uganda in 1910, the local community inhabiting the Rwenzori Mountain areas comprised of three major ethnic groups: the Bakonjo and Baamba on the Ugandan side, and the Banande people in the current eastern D.R. Congo (Yeoman, 1992). Before the Forestry Policy of 1929 which initiated the gazzetement of natural forests into Central Forest Reserves (CFR), human settlements stretched into the current boundaries of RMNP. Currently, human settlements are confined to the lower slopes outside the park boundaries.

The region surrounding the RMNP is one of the most densely populated rural areas in Africa, with 150-450 people per sqkm (Tumusiime, 2006). In 1992 at least 300,000 Bakonjo lived in the area (Loefler, 1997), but by 2002 the population around the mountain in Uganda had grown up to 1,000,000 people (WWF, 2004). The increase in population has increased the demand for park resources such as bamboo, firewood, wild game meat, and land for cultivation. Although traditionally the use of forest resources was to some extent permitted under the former Forest Department, regulatory measures are now in place to ensure sustainable use of resources such as bamboo, fibres, and medicinal plants and no permission whatsoever to issue permits for wild game meat.

The restriction on use of park resources keeps escalating conflicts between the local people, district authorities and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Efforts to rectify the situation were necessary have subsequently led to park zoning for collaborative management where regulated extraction of some resources is permitted. Programs like revenue sharing, community tourism and conservation awareness are also implemented as a way of conservation benefit sharing.

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