Introducing Our Immersive Uganda Conservation Tours
Rainbow Tours has a new selection of exciting, hands-on small group tours in Uganda based around conservation. Their creator, Craig Kaufman, is here to tell you more about them.
We are proud to introduce our conservation-focused small group departures from 2019 to 2021. For these Uganda tours (some of which also include time in Rwanda and/or Kenya), our aim is for participants not just to enjoy appreciating rare wildlife and wonderful landscapes, but also to learn about community-based conservation initiatives which are underway in our host countries. Enjoy this armchair journey around the wild places of Uganda, for which we are offering a range of exceptionally interesting and immersive small group tours.
Endangered Rothschild's giraffes being relocated in Murchison Falls National Park. Photo by Craig Kaufman.
This image shows a genetic ark being transported across the Murchison River. Operation Twiga, conducted by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in combination with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), entailed the translocation of the endangered Nubian giraffe (Rothschild's giraffe) from north of the Murchison River to the southern sector of the park, which holds more than 50% of this giraffe's wild population. I was fortunate to be at the park during Operation Twiga I (January 2016).
Subsequently, more founder populations of Nubian giraffe were translocated to other parts of Murchison Falls National Park and Kidepo National Park.
During small group set departures which include Murchison Falls National Park, guests can attend a talk by a warden or head ranger from UWA to learn more about this successful project, which has put UWA at the forefront of giraffe conservation.
Ranger-guide Rachel Nakazzi studying chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest Central Reserve. Photo by Craig Kaufman.
At Kalinzu Forest Central Reserve near Queen Elizabeth National Park, I met up with Rachel Nakazzi, a Chimpanzee Researcher guide. During our tours, we arrange for guests to have one-to-ones with rangers, park wardens, and resident guides and researchers to facilitate a deeper understanding of conservation issues in each site of biological interest.
In the Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area, three forest corridors are in the process of being planned and developed in order to allow for populations of threatened wildlife, such as chimpanzees, to move freely between isolated tracts of forest.
This is the case with the well-known Kyamburu Gorge where, for the sake of genetic diversity among its chimps, the creation of a corridor to Kasyoha-Kitomi, and from there to Kalinzu-Maramagambo, is imperative.
Uganda Carnivore Programme training session in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Photo by Craig Kaufman.
Uganda Carnivore Programme is working hard to protect carnivores in Queen Elizabeth National Park, where they place strong emphasis on community-based conservation. Ultimately their aim is to educate resident communities and to reduce human-wildlife conflict. Team leader and founding member of the programme, Dr Ludwig Siefert (photographed here with young Ugandan trainees), or one of the team can join our guests in the vehicle during a Carnivore Monitoring excursion that includes activities such as tracking the predators using radio telemetry.
Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka lecturing at the Royal Geographical Society. Photo by Craig Kaufman
In November 2016, we attended the Tusk Conservation lecture at the Royal Geographical Society where Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka delivered a superb lecture on the conservation of Mountain gorillas. Central to Dr Gladys' multi-award winning work is the interface between wildlife, livestock and human beings in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where she established Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) with a view to community-based conservation. We are immensely proud to have Dr Gladys featuring on three of our exclusive and immersive small group set departures, starting in September 2019. Currently, Dr Gladys is one of the three finalists of the prestigious Tusk Conservation Award this year (2019).
Bee-keepers work as part of a community-based project to use bees to deter elephants from trampling their crops. Photo by Craig Kaufman.
Exasperated by elephants raiding their crops, farmers living adjacent to Queen Elizabeth National Park tried all manner of deterrents, including digging trenches, planting thorny vegetation; guarding crops with guns and other weaponry and even killing the odd elephant. The Foundation for Youth Development (fYDe) then approached the resident communities, using partly folklore and partly local knowledge that elephants actually fear honeybees, because the bees can sting their trunk tips.
I visited the Omumashaka Beekeeping cooperative where, in association with Malaika Honey, farmers were trained to become commercial beekeepers. Hives were set up to create a fence surrounding cultivated plots, which deterred elephants and simultaneously reduced human-wildlife conflict.
Guests can partake in an interactive excursion, including dressing up bee-keeping gear to join the Bee-Keepers in situ. Sales of honey and the cost of the excursion help make the project sustainable and contribute to the livelihood of the community.
UWA ranger training team at Mweya Student Centre. Photo by Craig Kaufman
While on our immersive tours, there is the opportunity to meet young trainees such as I did in December 2019 at the Mweya Student Centre, Queen Elizabeth National Park. While having an informal chat with the next generation of conservationists, it is always interesting to learn first-hand from them about their perceptions and experience with the human-wildlife conflict zone and what motivated the trainees to pursue a career in the conservation arena.