For the launch of our Wildlife on the Waterfront event in Bristol, Dan Bucknell from Tusk and Donald Mavunduse from Send a Cow talk about how collaborations like the Living with Wildlife appeal are the future of conservation.
Dan: Life is rebounding in Murchison Falls, thanks to the conservation work being done in the area [of Murchison Falls National Park]. However, if we are to secure a sustainable future, one that works for both people and wildlife, then we must ensure that the drivers for poaching are removed. Traps recovered from the park are down from 7,000 to 1,500 in recent years but that is the tip of the iceberg. These traps are indiscriminate, and can trap the endangered Rothschild Giraffe, elephants by the trunks, and even lions.
The main drivers include poverty and a lack of economic opportunities in the region. That’s why we’ll be investing in vocational training and why it’s really exciting to be partnering with Send a Cow.
Donald: Absolutely. For people and wildlife to live well together it’s important that organisations like ourselves work together. The story around this project that I think captures the problem is one of young people in the areas use mosquito nets to fish in the river. Now, just imagine that for a moment, this means that they are not protected from malaria whilst at the same time, because of the small holes in mosquito nets, they capture even the smallest fish indiscriminately. So, what this project is really about is getting that win-win situation for the communities and wildlife.
What Send a Cow bring as an organisation, is restoring Murchison Falls National Park to help families who, because of climate-change induced hunger, are forced to cross the river to poach. We provide skills that help those families to grow their own food because that is what they would prefer.
One statistic that brings it home, is that, in the north-western area of the national park (where the communities that we are looking to help live) 35% of children under 5 experience chronic malnutrition. You can see clearly, the choices that their parents have to make.
In this project, we are moving away from a law-enforcement approach to a livelihood-driven approach. One of the important aspects of this project is building relationships between the communities, wildlife and authorities in the area, so that they will understand each other and work together, better.