BUVUMA – A new wave of hope springs up among community members of Yuwe Island after Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) constructed a Crocodiles Exclusion Enclosure (CEE) in the area to save people from crocodile attacks while fetching water.
Yuwe Island is located in Nayilambi sub county Buvuma district.
Due to the several crocodile attacks, the island had been named a danger zone and a threat to both human lives and livelihoods.
This community is surrounded by Lake Victoria which serves as the only source of water yet most women and children had become vulnerable while using it to sustain livelihood.
Most of the house shelters on this island are constructed on the lake shores increasing the risk of exposure to crocodile attacks. The crocodile enclosure was constructed in a way that it prevents the local community from fetching water beyond the gazetted point for safety.
The District Chairperson for Buvuma Nabasa Kalisa said that about 10 people have died as a result of these attacks. The Chairman revealed that most victims of crocodile attacks were women and children.
He also disclosed that when the crocodiles move into the gardens, they destroy crops like beans, cabbage among others which has caused bitterness among members in the community who get agitated and sometimes attempt to kill them.
“Buvuma Island has been isolated for a long time and our cries have always been ignored. I want to therefore thank Uganda Wildlife Authority for coming at the most critical time because this makes us feel that were not totally forgotten,” said Nabasa.
The cage is an intervention mechanism to protect lives of people living on the islandby ending crocodileending crocodile attacks on humans as well as promoting a harmonious living between humans and wildlife.
During the construction of the cages, UWA also sensitized community members on safety tips and ways of avoiding crocodile-human attacks both on land and in water.
Local leaders who took part in the sensitization of their communities pledged to continuously monitor the cage as well as provide knowledge to other members of the community on how to maintain it.
The leaders extended their appreciation to UWA for coming in to protect the community from crocodile and hippo attacks and urged them to check with the community to enable timely handling of issues.
Mr. Justus Tusubira Uganda Wildlife Authority Manager Awareness and Human Wildlife Conflict highlighted the importance of animals in boosting the tourism and emphasized the need for coexistence.
“Once these animals are killed and go extinct, Ugandans will have to travel to other countries to see these very animals we are killing thus affecting the economy. If we protect wildlife, we shall enjoy the benefits as people in the community will be employed.”
A 10 member committee was put in place to monitor general cleanliness of the cage and tasked to report any challenges that may emerge from time to time. They were trained and equipped with skills on how to use the cage and make repairs in case of any damages.
Human wildlife conflict is one of the greatest conservation challenges and is partly as a result of the increasing population pressure. As people search for land for cultivation, settlement and other activities, they encroach on wildlife habitats; they become vulnerable to wildlife attacks.
Other intervention mechanisms deployed in other regions to manage human wildlife conflict include chilli planting, use of trenches to prevent elephants from crossing into community land planting unpalatable crops that cat as buffers between parks and communities and electric fencing among others.