A spectacular wilderness in Uganda is under threat from Uganda’s Electric Regulatory Authority which is looking for approval for a new hydroelectric plant connected to the park’s amazing waterfalls.
The Murchison Falls National Park is not only one of the most popular tourist attractions in Uganda. It’s also home to elephants, lions, hippos and giraffes and many other species. A few years ago in fact, scientists surveyed the area – they found it twice as rich in wildlife as previously thought.
If the ERA gets approval for this plant, it would be devastating for both wildlife and locals who need tourism. Across many sectors, there’s growing outcry that this damming of the river which feeds the Murchison Falls is a bad idea.
And the wildlife and locals in Murchison Falls need support from outside Uganda to stop the building of the plant.
There needs to be a global response which emphasise the importance of this national park – and others like it. We all need to make it clear that protecting Uganda’s biodiversity is important to all of us, not just Uganda.
Will you add your support? The Wildlife Conservation Society is asking as many people as possible to speak up by 3 July so that they can delivery comments to the ERA
Please show your support. Let the ERA know the plans for a new dam should not go ahead.
Water flow lessens animal-human conflict in Liwonde National Park, Malawi
We all need water, humans and animals.
So what happens when there is competition between humans and animals for water?
Liwonde National Park in Malawi is home to over 10,000 different species. Black rhinos, elephants, zebras and baboons are among them – the place is a biodiversity hotspot.
The Shire River passes through the area, and is a vital life source for all the animals there.
Years of poaching, illegal fishing and snaring have devastated the park’s ecosystem. Competition for resources has rocketed; as well as the animals, people need water to survive.
The people of Chikolongo had to go miles to retrieve water from the Shire River – it was the only major source of water available. In their trek, the journey often led to death for people and animals – especially as a result of human encounters with crocodiles, elephants and hippos.
The IFAW (that’s the International Fund for Animal Welfare) heard about the crisis in Chikolongo and knew they had to help.
So in 2013, they created the Chikolongo Livelihood Project – designed to build sustainable solutions to reduce the conflict between villages and wildlife.
They completed a water pump and pipeline to bring easily accessible and clean water directly into the heart of the Chikolongo community.
Since that pipeline was created, there have been no incidents of human-wildlife conflict. The villages have what they need to co-exist amongst the animals they had thought were dangerous. They are happier.
Plus, IFAW established a community fish farm and developed an incentive system to encourage the growth of commercial crops which was designed to help reduce poaching.
And the animals of Liwonde National Park are successfully recovering.
The fifth largest salt lake in the world, Mar Chiquita is South America’s second largest water body. And it’s home to most of the world’s Chilean flamingo (about 318,000 of them, they are Nearly Threatened) and nearly half of its Andean Flamingo (18,000 in winter (Vulnerable) and Puna Flamingo as well (and they’re Near Threatened).
In addition, there are tens of thousands of American Golden Plover, White-rumped and Lesser Yellowlegs who migrate here.
Oh, and don’t forget the 600,000 Wilson's Phalaropes – about a third of the world’s population.
So let’s move away from the Little Sea (as Mar Chiquita means) to grasslands. These are home to the Greater Rhea, Bearded Tachuri, a Maned Wolf and Sickle-winged Nightjar (Near Threatened). The swampy areas have Dot-winged Crake, and Dinelli's Doradito, while Crowned Solitary Eagles Buteogallus coronatus fly over Chaco forest.
Unfortunately dear reader, that is not the case. It’s in danger. Why? Well, the human race is at it again.
Water extracted from the lake at an unsustainable lake
The lake is polluted, thanks to local industry
Above average deforestation rate
And action is needed urgently. Which is where the supporters of Birdfair in the UK come in and the human race is working to put things right.
Aves Argentinas is a partner of BirdLife International. It has undertaken bird surveys, raised awareness, improved management of the area and clarified land ownership at Mar Chiquita for years.
Then came its light bulb moment – a plan to create what should become Argentina’s largest national park.
Creating a national park to keep the area safe
The plan has been developed with provincial and national authorities. Back in 2017, a concordat was signed by Argentina’s environment minister, National Parks Administration and the governor of the Córdoba province. And the Ansenuza National Park will protect up to 800,000 hectares which will be managed at the national level.
Crucial to the plan is the involvement and engagement (how I hate that word but I can never think of another) of the local community.
Planning involving them, empowering local stake holders and establishing a network of local conservation guardians has been a key part of Aves Argentina’s strategy from the start.
And there’s more – bolstering the local economy through nature-based tourism is essential to the project’s success. So the Ministry of Tourism is very pleased indeed. Ecotourism will lengthen the tourist seasons and help provide sustainable livelihoods over a wider area. That should also help local communities commit to the long term conservation of the area.
And the lake’s colloquial name in the national park title says a great deal.
The British Birdwatching Fair helps in two key ways:
An international event like this is vital in building political awareness back in Argentina as to why this area needs to be protected. It will help build support from the bird world and show that the Ansenuza really is a birding paradise.
As a bird lover, I want to go and see birds in a beautiful, natural environment. I don’t want to go to see a polluted lake where a lot of the water has been sucked out and drive through an area where local forests have been destroyed to get there.
Raising funds to support the project
In 2017, the theme was ‘Saving paradise in the Pacific’. The aim was to remove invasive predators from the French Polynesian island of Rapa Iti. Last year, Birdfair raised a jaw-dropping £333,000 was raised towards the work.
The 2018 project is an ambitious one. A project to create and protect a national park and all its wildlife, whilst helping locals through eco-tourism. And surely a model for other conservation organisations to look at?
BirdLife International - BirdLife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. 121 BirdLife Partners worldwide.
Back in 1983, 3.2 million acres was established - the Iberá Natural Reserve in Corrientes province, North East Argentina. It created a tremendous opportunity for jaguar restoration.
And the Conservation Land Trust (CLT) was established there; it is ecologically restoring 370,000 acres of former cattle ranches to establish Argentina’s largest national park inside the larger Iberá reserve.
And CLT started a programme to reintroduce those large mammals that became extirpated inside Iberá during the XXth century.
After re-establishing the presence of giant anteaters and pampas deer there, jaguars are next.
The Tompkins Conservation team in Argentina consists of vets and scientists, community stakeholders and policy makers – and they’ve all collaborated with the goal of breeding a generation of jaguars that could be released into their natural habitat and survive in the wild on their own.
There are about 200 individuals in the wild in Argentina today, and about 15,000 jaguars roam the wild worldwide.
The goal is to restore a stable 100 jaguar population to Iberá National Park – these jaguar cubs are a great start.
For more information on this Jaguar programme, click here