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Nature’s stewards: how local buy-in can help tackle wildlife crime in Uganda

High levels of illegal resource use in two of Uganda’s national parks show the need to rethink current approaches to combatting wildlife crime. Our research suggests that more than 40 per cent of households living adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls national parks have been involved in illegal hunting within the past year, mostly to catch bushmeat for local sale and consumption. Most hunters do not typically target high value internationally traded species, but may occasionally kill them as ‘bycatch.’ Though rare, this phenomenon has a significant cumulative impact. Effectively tackling the root causes of illegal hunting will require longer-term and more focused engagement between the Uganda Wildlife Authority and communities. Local people and wildlife officials identified mitigating human–wildlife conflict, supporting sustainable livelihoods and increasing employment opportunities as promising avenues for further investigation.

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International wildlife crime has moved to the top of the conservation and development agenda following the recent surge in illegal poaching and trafficking of wildlife. But calls for law enforcement to combat the involvement of criminal syndicates and militia risk alienating rural communities. How can responses be more pro-poor? This project aims to build capacity for pro-poor responses in Uganda through learning more about the interactions between wildlife crime and poverty.

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Building capacity for pro-poor responses to wildlife crime in Uganda