Authorities in Kasambya Sub-county, Kakumiro District are concerned about cases of chimpanzee-human conflict that have left some lives lost in the area.
Mr Deogratius Kayondo, the Kasambya Sub-county Chairman, says the relationship between chimpanzees and people has soured resulting in the death of children aged 2-5 years following the animals’ attacks emanating from provocation.
He says the conflict has been triggered by the violent approach including attacks that residents mete out on chimpanzees whenever they see them especially in their gardens seeking food after their fruit trees and habitats were destroyed through human activity.
The politician calls for expertise intervention to raise mass awareness campaigns about how people can co-exist with chimpanzees without harming them to prompt a stop by the apes against attacking them.
“As residents of Kasambya sub-county, we still need serious sensitisation because most of the people don’t know how to behave when they see chimpanzees and others don’t know the beauty of chimpanzees to the country,” Mr Kayondo says.
“Due to human attacks on chimpanzees when people meet them, there is always a reactive behaviour that has so far left some children dead. For this reason, there is a need to sensitise the residents to vacate forests so that chimpanzees can have enough space and enjoy in their habitats to reduce on the conflict,” he adds.
Following the report, the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) has extended its awareness campaign to the area to end human-wildlife conflict.
As usual, CCFU has fronted the Ekiteera (Chimpanzee) football tournament to Kakumiro district as a conduit of passing good message to the people about the beauty of protecting the apes and how they can live without any conflicts.
In this arrangement, the message normally starts with a community dialogue involving officials from CCFU and cultural and political leaders who engage and sensitise communities about co-existence between chimpanzees and people and how people can conserve the environment for the protection of the animals.
Later, matches follow with clans living adjacent to forests that host chimpanzees participating in the football tournaments.
In this regard, CCFU launched the 5th Edition of the Ekiteera (Chimpanzee) Football Tournament at Kasambya village in Kasambya sub-county, Kakumiro district.
Ms Barbara Babweteera, the CCFU Executive Director (ED), says like it had been in Kikuube and Kagadi districts of Bunyoro, there is a chimpanzee-human conflict in Kakumiro that has prompted them to intervene by creating awareness among people living near chimpanzee hosting forests for peace to prevail between the two parties.
She says the objective of the tournament is to lure and advise people from encroaching on forests that are a habitat as well as a food basket for chimpanzees; short of which will result in conflict as the animas look for food in gardens and find where to live since their home is destroyed.
The ED adds that with the sensitisation and youth engagement through sports, the people of Kasambya sub-county in Kakumiro district will also change their attitude towards destroying forests and harassing chimpanzees like their counterparts in other parts of Muhorrro and Kabwoya sub-counties in Kagadi and Kikuube districts respectively in Bunyoro where cases of human-wildlife conflict have now drastically reduced after they were sensitised about the beauty of co-existence between chimpanzees and people.
Ms Harriet Kasande, a resident of Kasambya village, says since CCFU extended its campaign to the area, the residents have started treating chimpanzees in a friendly manner bearing in mind that encroachment on the forest causes chimpanzees to look for habitats and food in gardens.
“We have been treating chimpanzees as our great enemies but now we have realised that if we protect them from any harm, they will transform our area through tourism since they are on of the greatest tourism attractions.” She said.