“Leopard Village”: Community Ecotourism & Resource Center in Muhokya

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Entries in Uganda (11)


Celebrating Uganda's First Lion Day!



On December 14th, we celebrated local culture and the African Lion at Uganda’s first ever Lion Day. It was a festive afternoon filled with fun activities, spectacular performances, and learning about lions and other wildlife. We were so happy to have such strong participation by so many villagers and our special partners.


Special thanks goes out to:

The Oakland Zoo and the Uganda Wildlife Authority for hosting it with us.

We have so many people to thank for this great day!

Uganda Wildlife Authority QECA CAM Edward Asalu, and QECA Tourism Warden Katana Dickson for their support of our work and for their commitment to conserving Uganda’s wildlife

Oakland Zoo and conservation director Amy Gotliffe and the ecotour delegates for making everything so special that day; Oakland Zoo conservation department staff Carol Moen Wing and Shelby McCoy who worked so hard to put this together from California; and ZooCamp Director Liz Low for sending over t-shirts and lots of other goodies for us to pass out that day. Lion Day wouldn’t have happened with you!

Tourism Police Commander Muyondo Godwin and his team

Friends of Queen Chairman Sander Kesseler and all of our other Friends of Queen colleagues who helped us celebrate the day, and who are as committed to conservation as we are!

Local leaders:

LC3 of Muhokya subcounty Kasoke Ernest 
LC1 of Muhokya Trading Center Bigemere Abdulatif
LC1 of Kahendero Juma Alube
Local Police Chief Kisembo Jellies

The livestock owners from Hamukungu and Nyakatonzi who work with us daily on human-carnivore conflict and who came to celebrate with us

Our Community Scouts Kenneth Mugyenyi and Robert Nkome-Mugabe. 

Ernest and The Leopard Village Cubs for all their hard work to prepare the site to host Lion Day (and clean up the aftermath!). Muhokya Catholic Church for lending the use of their land for our Leopard Village community tourism site.

Master Kalenzi and his performance troupe, who make every event they perform at so festive

The Leopard Village Acrobats and especially their mentors Katarina and Salim, who have been so committed to training local youth

Local schools:

Kahendero Primary School 
Hamukungu Primary School
Hamukungu Secondary School

Our friends from Kasenyi Safari Camp, Ihamba Lakeside Safari Lodge, Little Elephant Camp, Marafiki Safari Lodge, and the other lodges and tour operators who partner with us in conservation

All the local residents who came out to celebrate the day with us and who live alongside lions and other wildlife every day.

Thank you again to everyone who made this day so special! See you next year!




Community hosts first tourists!

Last weekend, the community welcomed its first group of visitors to its new ecotourism initiatives.  There were songs, dancing, and crafts, as well as a discussion with the tourists on the history of the park and local communities.  The tourists had a great time and learned a lot.  The community members were very pleased with how their first tourist visit went and are looking forward to hosting more tourists in the near future.  

This is a big step in our goal of establishing the Community Resource Center.  To learn how you can visit the community now, and for more information on what our plans are for the future, please click here.



Lots of lion cubs!

There are now close to 40 lion cubs throughout the area that we monitor.  That means lots of busy lioness moms.  Cub mortality can be high, however.  ~50% of cubs die due to natural selection and many more die as a result of illegal human activity.  We are working hard to sensitive and educate the communities to the presence of the lions, so that we can reduce the number of cubs, and adults, who die as a result of poisoning.


New male lion collared - "Nubi"

A male lion was collared today.  His name is "Nubi".  He can be found in the Katwe crater area, which is one of the conflict hotspots, since livestock are often grazed in this area.  Lioness Fiona and her cubs are nearby this area as well.  We will monitor their health and also any interactions there may be with humans and their cattle.


Student performances in Kahendero

As part of our conservation outreach programs in the village schools, the students have been preparing poems and dances.  We were very impressed with their performances yesterday!


California fundraiser for Muhokya Community Education Center

Tonight, the Docents of the Oakland Zoo, in Oakland, California, held “Beer for Beasts” - a fundraiser for the future Community Education Center to be located in Muhokya.  More than 100 people from the San Francisco Bay Area community showed their support of our conservation work with the communities in Uganda by donating, attending the event, and buying raffle tickets.  Monica spent a few minutes at the beginning of the night sharing the story of the people and wildlife of Queen Elizabeth National Park.  The event was a huge success!  Now our efforts turn to working with the local community in Uganda!


Community Attitudes Survey

We have commenced our first survey of community attitudes in the villages of Muhokya and Kahendero!  Designed by Monica, with input and review by Dr. Siefert and Peregrine, our goal is to use the information from this survey to target our conservation education outreach activities.  We will also use it as a baseline of community attitudes so that conservation program effectiveness can be measured over time.  James and Olivia have spent a lot of time interviewing the community members.  We thank the village leaders and community members themselves for their cooperation and support of this initiative and we are excited about our future collaborations with them on reducing human-wildlife conflict.



Finally caught a glimpse of leopardess Kim's cub

James took a group of tourists out this morning in search of leopardess Kim, who is one of the carnivores we monitor.  James was finally able to catch a glipse of her ~one-year-old male cub, as the cub rushed into a nearby thicket.  Kim was nearby up in an acacia tree.

Here is our first picture of Kim's cub:


Community Workshop

Today, Dr. Siefert, James, and Monica held a community workshop in Kasese, which was attended by eleven leaders from the Queen Elizabeth area.  The goal was to have an open discussion on the problems the local communities face with wildlife and to design a plan on how to collaborate in the future.  We had representation from the villages of Katwe, Nyakatonzi, Muhokya, Kilembe, Kabukyero, and Hamukungu.  We also had a wide representation of livelihoods, including pastoralists, farmers, teachers, students, businessmen, and a member of the local Women’s League. 

Over the course of four hours, we exchanged the challenges and opportunities each of us faces and also our hopes for the future.  We left with a strong plan on how to move forward…together! 


Mr. Grey & Twin eat a warthog!

Not exactly "breaking news", but it is good news.  Since they were pushed out of their territory near the Ugandan kob fields by The Coalition of Three, there has been concern that Mr. Grey and Twin may prey on some of the village of Katanguru's goats, who often stray into the park where they are now.  

Preying on livestock put lions at risk of retaliatory killing - cattle owners will sometimes lace the livestock carcasses with poison, which results in the lions death if/when they return to feed on it.  When we come upon a livestock carcass, we will attempt to retrieve it and dispose of it safely away from the predators in order to try to avoid this situation.