Nature Uganda, our main partner in Uganda, continues to reach out to a wide range of key stakeholders under its research and conservation programmes in south-western Uganda. Work aimed at monitoring Grey Crowned Crane flocks and breeding pairs, promoting the crane custodianship concept and assessing drivers and magnitude of crane trade is currently underway.
Since November 2013, Jimmy Muheebwa (Nature Uganda’s Crane Conservation Project Coordinator) has been collecting sightings and breeding data in Kabale, Lwengo Ntungamo, Mitooma and Sheema Districts guided by a new data collection protocol developed by International Crane Foundation /Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership. Data on flocks and breeding pairs sighted at different sites were captured. Notable observations included flocks of 120 and 101 cranes sighted in Kabale and Lwengo respectively.
Ten wetlands containing Grey Crowned Crane breeding sites to be managed under crane custodianship arrangements were identified in Kabale, Ntungamo, Bushenyi and Rakai Districts. Crane custodianship is a concept aimed at placing the responsibility of protecting breeding pairs and their chicks in the hands of community groups and households on whose properties cranes breed. Current land uses at the ten sites were assessed and wetland resource users informed of the plans and expectations under the custodianship programme.
A questionnaire-based survey to collect data on drivers and dynamics of crane trade in Uganda is underway. Meetings with immigration, civic leaders, police, patrons of wildlife clubs and other stakeholders were held to document past incidents of collection of eggs and capture of chicks from the wild. The exercise also involved interviewing border police and immigration officials to follow up on reports of arrests of individuals caught smuggling cranes.
Since 2008, the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) has been the main sponsor of the Uganda Crane and Wetland Conservation Project. In 2010, the Project Coordinator, Jimmy Muheebwa was awarded a WFN Award in recognition of his remarkable achievements in promoting community-based crane conservation. In 2013, he received a WFN Continuation Funding Award to scale up his work in south-western Uganda.