When we talk about conservation efforts, one of the biggest challenges is how to get the local population on board and get them to understand that the forest and the species are worth more alive and preserved. This understanding is critical to any conservation initiative of any forest reservation, and it is not different with the Kibale National Park, the biggest protected area in Uganda.
The Kibale National Park covers an area of 776 square kilometres. It is home to more than 1,400 threatened chimpanzees – the second largest population in Africa – and of 12 other species of primates. The park is also home to over 325 species of birds, four wild felids, at least 60 other species of mammals, and over 250 species of trees. It is also an important migration route for elephants.
In the last century, the human population around the park has increased sevenfold. This puts enormous pressure on the park, as land becomes scarce and local families use the forest for resources such as firewood and bushmeat. In addition, many farmers believe that the soil is better for growing crops year round. This increase in population has caused the area around the park to be divided and developed or turned into plantations and farmland. Human presence has begun to affect the biodiversity inside the park.
To help with the conservative efforts around the Kibale National Park, The Kasiisi Project was founded in 1997. They have understood that education is the only way they can get the local communities on board with conservation efforts of the Park and its incredible biodiversity.
Kasiisi have been working with local communities for more than 15 years. They provide education and development opportunities for the children in order to help develop the communities while protecting the forest, and today, more than 10,000 primary-school Ugandan children are supported by The Kasiisi project.
Kasiisi also runs a Guesthouse that hosts tourists and researchers that visit the Park. The guesthouse not only offers education and research opportunities for people, but it is also an important source of income.
In 2013, Hanne Haugen from W+K London spent a month with Kasiisi to develop a business and communication strategy in order to help with the long-term financial sustainability of the organization. Much of the focus of Hanne’s strategy was on the guesthouse, and moving on from this strategy, the objective of the next TIE campaign will be to help ‘sell’ the Project Guesthouse and help ensure they have a steady stream of tourists all year round. This will not only generate income, but it will also help the Ugandan administration of The Kasiisi Project to support more schools and impact the lives of even more local children. And it will have an even bigger impact on the long-term conservation of the Kibale National Park and its unique biodiversity.