The visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park has finally come and gone! I definitely circled this event on the itinerary out of excitement. The experience I had at this park was amazing. Queen Elizabeth National Park is the top two largest national parks in Uganda. This park is home to over 95 animal species and 614 species of birds. Before entering the park, we stopped alongside the road at the National Park lookout. This fall mountain that bordered the park provided us with an amazing view of what stood below. The park is very large. Inside the park lie two large lakes; Lake George and Lake Edward. Lake Edward is massive and its borders stretch into Congo which is Uganda’s neighbor to the west. The view was simply amazing. Both of these lakes were nothing less of breath taking.
It was really nice to see the animals in their natural habitats. We saw all kind of beasts including Elephants, Hippos and Water Buffalo all feeding on the banks of Lake Edward. My favorite was the Elephant. I enjoyed learning all kind of information about this large animal. During the game drive, the group got the chance to see a mother elephant walking around with its offspring. Elephants are very protective of their young. The young elephant often hides under the legs of its parents to hide itself from any danger. Elephants have no natural predator. The only predators to elephants are humans who hunt them for their tusks. Queen Elizabeth is home to about 500 Elephants. This figure has dropped tremendously from years back! At one point of time, there were about 5,000 elephants in this park. During the reign of Idi Amin he slaughtered thousands of elephant for their precious ivory which reduced their population greatly to about 300 elephants. This species is slowly but surely growing.
Our tour guide Moses was pretty cool. He talked about the conflict between the park and its local people. Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to 11 villages. These villagers are often farmers, salt miners of fishermen. This is how they make their living. Recently there were 5 lions poisoned to death by local farmers. The lions were preying on their cattle causing the farmers to lose money, so they took action to end this. This is having a negative impact on the ecosystem as well as tourism. There is often conflict between the park and local residents. Moses explained to us that the local people would sometimes hunt the animals inside the park for food. They would also pollute the water and land with trash which both have a negative impact on the environment. This can decrease the amount of local tourists who visit this park resulting in lack of revenue. There have been constant efforts from both the Uganda Wildlife Authority and local villagers to compromise. Moses stated that the park tries to help fund schools for the local village people to promote a healthy relationship between inhabitants and environment. This is definitely a way of sustainable development. It is a combined effort from the government; UWA and local village people to upkeep this beautiful park.
To attract visitors Queen Elizabeth National Park provides numerous activities. Some of these include boat rides, forest walks, hill climbing, and chimp searches. These activities increase the numbers of local tourism. This promotes sustainable development because by keeping this park as natural as possible, the higher the amount of tourism and revenue for the government. National Parks are great for sustainable development. They allow for the a huge pieces of land to go untouched and ruined by development which are turned into a way of local as well as international tourism. Maintaining this park requires a lot of labor will increase jobs for people such as Moses. Overall, I think that tourism to National Park is a sustainable industry. The Uganda Wildlife Authority should continue to focus on the upkeep of this park. By promoting a healthy relationship between the village people and the wild species, the park’s population will continue to grow in numbers which will attract more tourists resulting in more money for the park. This money could help aid the village people’s schools and general lifestyle to decrease the conflicts.
Posted By Matthew Hancock (through Brittany's Account)