EUCAP Sahel Niger

EU’s commitment to support wildlife initiatives during the COVID-19 crisis

19/06/2020 - 15:12
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had mixed impacts on conservation and the environment in Uganda, as everywhere in the world. Some of the positive signs have included wildlife returning to places they used to live, feed, or nest in. Air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have also fallen rapidly, particularly in urban and industrial areas. However, COVID-19 has also caused an unprecedented negative impact on wildlife tourism and thus to wildlife itself. As the number of tourists has slumped and many have lost their livelihoods, there is fear of an increase in wildlife crime in areas usually protected by rangers and the presence of visitors. There are also concerns that the reduction in tourism revenues from protected areas will lead to lack of necessary funds for conservation, anti-poaching and monitoring operations.

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In particular, wildlife tourism in protected areas is a powerful tool to provide income for local communities and rural households, who often live in marginal areas with few livelihood opportunities. Local communities – particularly in developing countries - may carry a large share of the costs of protected areas, such as restricted access to land and natural resources as well as crop damage due to raiding wildlife. However, those that benefit from tourism may also be more likely to conserve wildlife and nature.

In the current unprecedented situation, and in order to respond to risks and difficulties induced by the COVID-19 crisis, the EU is contributing financially to a number of response grants to support locally driven actions. In particular, the following initiatives can also be of benefit to Uganda, and the Delegation of the EU to Uganda encourages relevant actors in Uganda to consider responding to them:

  1. The Rapid Response Grants of the BIOPAMA Action Component, has launched a call for grants specifically aimed at increasing the resilience of protected areas and local communities’ livelihoods facing the risks and difficulties of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. As a part of the SOS African Wildlife initiative, a call for proposals for Rapid Action Grants targeting terrestrial or freshwater threatened species in continental Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, now also open to projects responding to threats linked to COVID-19 crisis and its consequences.
  3. A call for projects has been launched under the African Elephant Fund to which the EU’s contribution is 1 million euros. The purpose of this call is to allow African elephant range states to seek emergency funding to address elephant conservation challenges related to COVID-19 for the implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan.

These initiatives complement the actions already implemented under the cross-regional programme to support interventions in key wildlife priority areas such as: i) strengthened Trans-frontier Conservation Area (TFCA) management; and ii) improved law enforcement on wildlife crime. Funded by the EU, the cross-regional programme is implemented through a partnership of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Among the relevant focal sites prioritised for support under this project is the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

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