Primate killing: Community views
Our community conservation experts have been meeting the community groups that live around nature conservation areas. Their concerns are very genuine, and they are the reason we have this effort to promote conservation of the primates and their habitat through a community approach.
While meeting these groups, some questions were asked, and the community gave their responses.
1. WHY people HUNT OR POACH primates?
- We hunt because it is a tradition in our culture or clan
- We hunt as only means of survival. So you go out to hunt animals, sell part of it and take the rest to your home
- We poach to get money from primate trade. Some people come into our community looking for animal skins, teeth, whole animal etc.
- We hunt primate to reduce crop raiding
- We hunt primates to eliminate them near our homes since they can spread diseases such as Ebola, corona etc.
2. WHERE do you GET THE HUNTING MATERIAL FROM?
- We buy them.
- We borrow from friends
- Some of them can be imported from neighboring countries
- Others are made locally here.
3. WHAT ROLE DO THE WOMEN PLAY IN THIS HUNTING CULTURE
- They cook for us the kills
- Sometimes they stay behind selling the bush meat.
- They can warn us of the threats from wildlife rangers and police.
4. ARE THERE ESTABLISHED MARKETS FOR THE WILD MEAT IN YOUR AREAS?
- Very many people in the country are wild meat-eaters. Even those you don’t expect are our clients, including law enforcement personnel who pursue you during the day and in private also buy wild meat. So wild meat is on high demand, it can be consumed by humans or dogs.
5. DO YOU MAKE A LOT OF MONEY FROM HUNTING?
- It is little but better than nothing. We can do a few things with it such us buying medicine, some other food items like posho, sugar, salt, soap etc.
6. WHAT has MADE some people STOP POACHING?
- It is very risky. You go there but you are not sure that you will come back.
- There are many informers in the communities.
- The Uganda Wildlife Authority does a lot of patrols, sometimes they find you.
- The wildlife law has become tougher. You can be jailed for many years.
- Forced out by our wives. Some of our wives don’t want to become widows.
- Children influence- Some of our children who have gone to school don’t want to be orphans and advise parent who are hunters.
- Some of the conservation awareness programs like this save the primates educate us on alternative means of survival
- Some of the agents of poachers can kill you.
7. DO YOU HAVE SPECIFIC CONCERNS WITH GOVERNMENT?
- Some local community groups like Batwa, have been marginalized. We were living happily in the forest and hunting since time immemorial, However, we were pushed out of our ancestral homes (forests). The Government has not given us land. They don’t give us jobs. We are stopped access to wild meat with no alternatives.
- Uganda Wildlife Authority does not recruit us as rangers, yet we would be the best rangers because we know the forest very well.
- Government has ignored us all the time. They look at as criminals forgetting that even our grandfathers were depending on the forest resources.
- Many times, they arrest wrong people from the community and harass them or kill them for nothing.
8. WHAT CAN BE DONE TO EFFECTIVELY COMBAT PRIMATE KILLING?
- Create mass awareness on dangers of killing primates
- Provide us with alternative livelihoods opportunities especially in farming
- Skilling in fields of nature guiding, crafts, cultural dances
- Better human- primate conflict management
- Better human- primate disease transmission management
- Bursting of the primate product trade cartels in our communities
- Restoring the habitats for primates – they lack fruits in forests