Contributions of local communities in conservation of wildlife in Ajai Wildlife Reserve, Arua District
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The research study was to examine the contribution of local communities towards wildlife conservation in Ajai wildlife reserve. Three research objectives were considered; establish how local communities in participating in wildlife conservation, examine how local community participation affect conservation of wildlife and to find out the challenges the local communities face when contributing to wildlife conservation in Ajai. The researcher used both qualitative and quantitative research methodology to obtain data from 50 respondents that is UWA staff, Community local leaders and Community members. The researcher used both interview guide method, that is through use of interview guide and the Self-administered questionnaires (SAQs) as the instruments used to collect data from UWA staff, community leaders and members residing along Ajai wildlife reserve. From the information obtained in the field, it was revealed by key respondents that local communities have largely been participating positively towards wildlife conservation and their participation in the targeted areas have been through digging trenches, planting trees, environmentally friendly farming, sensitization campaigns and ecotourism ventures; the findings revealed that local communities heavily engaged in farming activities, settlement, trade, deforestation, bush burning, hunting and tourism are other activities under taken by local communities in the targeted areas; the findings also reveal the respondents participation has contributed to increased awareness, increased green spaces, clean environments, control of escape of wild animals and increased diversity and lastly, participants reveal that they face challenges of poverty, limited funding, destructive animals, incorporation with some community members and UWA staffs and unfavorable policies. Basing on the findings the researcher conclude that planting trees, digging trenches, environmentally friendly farming and sensitization campaigns are the main ways local communities participate in wildlife conservation and these leads to increased awareness, increased green spaces, clean environments, reduced wild animal escape and increased diversity. The researcher also conclude that limited funding, poverty, destructive animals and incorporation with some community members are the major challenges local communities face when contribution to wildlife conservation. The researcher recommend that UWA should develop strategies that will engage local communities in conservation activities like appreciating those who participate by giving them incentives, government through should carryout extensive sensitization in the communities around Ajai through holding seminars and radio talk shows, government should compensate farmers whose crops and animals have been destroyed and killed respectively by wild animals and lastly the researcher recommend that farmers should be encourage by UWA to grow crops which are not prone to wild animal destruction and give them improved seed varieties which are resistant to drought, pests and diseases and have short gestation periods.