Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is set to install 30 Kilometres of low voltage electric fencing in major human-wildlife conflict hotspots in Murchison Falls National Park.
The fence will be installed in areas whose trenches are known to experience high degrees of siltation by flash-floods, gully erosion and elephant activities. Some sections will be erected to cross rivers and landscapes characterized by hard underlying rock outcrops which prevent effective trenching.
Bashir Hangi, the Communications Manager of Uganda Wildlife Authority says installation of the 30 Kilometres of electric fence in Murchison Falls National Park will begin this financial year, with each kilometre costing 50 Million shillings.
Bashir says the methods will be integrated with other methods such as beehives, chilli growing and Community Scouts as well as de-silting trenches. He says the fences will be used to block the flow of rivers which elephants are known to use to access communities.
“For now, we will start with the two National Parks – Queen Elizabeth National Park where we have so far erected 10 Kilometres of electric fence and Murchison Falls National Park. We shall do more in Queen Elizabeth as we undertake the one in Murchison Falls National Park as well. In both cases, communities will provide the required labour and work with specialist contractors” he stated.
Walter Odokorwot, the Kidepo Valley Community Conservation Warden says trenches are dug two meters deep by two meters wide and what compromises their effectiveness include erosion of their banks by soil erosion, elephants and sedimentation of soil matters.
“We now know that the methods work best when integrated with others because, in swampy areas, trenches are not effective. In such areas, we need to reinforce the trenches with strong wires as it approaches features such as rivers and hills” Odokorwot told URN on phone from Kidepo Valley National Park.
According to Odokorwot who worked in Murchison Falls National Park as Community Conservation Wardens that areas susceptible to community – wildlife conflicts include Agung and Gony Cogo in Nwoya district, Norah in Lango and other parts in Bunyoro. He says Community scouts have been trained to use Vuvuzelas to redirect stray elephants into the parks.
Government prioritizes the control of large herbivores such as elephants, Buffaloes and Wild pigs due to their high feed intakes. The grazers spend up to 80 percent of their time feeding – making herds highly destructive to crop gardens.
Odokorwot says UWA is also using repellents such as cocktail of Chilli, Garlic, Onions and Nymph trees to repel elephants from crops known for attracting elephants with their appealing scent. The fermented concoction he says is enclosed in bottles which are placed inside gardens to repel the elephants.
A single mature individual elephant consumes between 250 and 350 kg of vegetation and requires 110 to 190 litres of water per day. This food requirement makes the member of the big five a danger to crops when stroked by a herd.