Murchison Falls National Park is one of Uganda’s Flagship conservation areas. Sitting between the Albert and Victoria Niles, it holds roughly 400 of Uganda’s 600 Lions and hosts large herds of Ugandan Kob (a popular type of antelope that appears on the coat of arms of Uganda). With the recent discovery of oil reserves under the park, trade-offs between conservation and development have emerged as significant drivers of local conservation management decisions.
James and Sean had the pleasure of spending a week working with WCS Uganda’s lion research team, studying sites where oil exploration and drilling have already taken place, and looking at the biodiversity and ecosystem impacts to date.
Lions are extremely threatened in East Africa and one look at mining cadastral sites that already exist in Uganda demonstrates the urgent need to better understand what impacts they will have on areas set aside for conservation.
Understanding the broader impacts of development projects on conservation is essential to making smart conservation decisions, and this will play a big part in both of James and Sean’s PhD projects.