BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU
KANUNGU: SATURDAY, AUGUST 21, 2021
Bwindi development network (BDN) a local NGO in Kanungu district is banking on reformed poachers to protect the wildlife in the impenetrable forest.
Alex Ngabirano, the BDN founder, intimated in a press statement that they decided to support former poachers and use them to persuade other local poachers to desist from hunting the wildlife because they know the networks and hunting routs very well.
Since its founding in 2014, the organization has sensitized and built the capacity of reformed poachers through livelihood projects.
“Instead of them going to hunt hares in the wild, we give to them rabbits to rear at home,” he said.
Ngabirano said rabbits multiply quickly, thereby, offering an alternative source of meat for the people.
This in turn saves the small animals like hares and squirrels or antelopes which the people hunt for domestic consumption.
To further protect the habitat, BDN gives tree seedlings so that the people living in the vicinity of the forest have their own tree plantations to turn to incase they need poles for construction or logs for timber.
On Friday the organization, with support from Brendah, gave out food rations worth sh510,000 to 20 families of reformed poachers each taking 5kgs of posho and one bar of Soap.
“The funds were not enough to benefit all the 96 eligible families. But we will keep giving to few families at a time starting with the neediest families,” Ngabirano said.
BDN started in 2014 but became effective in 2016 after realizing that most conservationists were fixated on protecting the African big game such as elephants, lions, buffaloes, etc., while ignoring the small animals whose existence in the Game Parks is equally important to maintain the ecological balance.
“There was a need to sensitize and guide them to stop setting snares to catch the small wild animals,” Ngabirano emphasized.
During the handing out of the food items, one reformed poacher stunned officials when he recounted killing about 984 animals before quitting the activity.
The former poacher said that for 41 years, he would hunt and kill at least two animals per month, mainly to be eaten at home.
That revelation prompted the Kanungu district communications officer, Mrs Mwajuma to plead with the former poachers to continue with the message of conservation for future generation.