Budongo Forest is home to many fruiting trees and several species of primates that depend upon tree fruit as a major component of their diets. Local community members live along the forest edge, and maintain subsistence farms on less than two acres of land. One of the major threats to farmers’ livelihoods is crop raiding by forest animals. Since 1993, researchers in the Budongo Forest Reserve have observed a 15% decline in the number of fruiting trees in the forest; the reasons for this decline are unknown. The result of fewer fruiting trees is an increase in raids by forest primates on subsistence farms—and increased human-wildlife conflict.
This project is investigating whether changes in climate and/or insect pollinators are responsible for changes in the number of fruit trees or seasonal fruit production. In addition, the research team is investigating the implications of changes in tree fruiting in the area on human-wildlife conflict and food security. To conduct this investigation, the team has established plots in which selected trees are monitored monthly to record fruiting patterns. At the same time, the team is collecting data on weather, pollination, fruit set, pollinator visitation frequency, foraging rates and pollination speed. Data will also be collected to correlate the patterns of crop raiding with the pollination and fruiting patterns of forest trees. The primary outcome of this research will be the development of a plan to reduce conflict between local community farmers and raiding wildlife.
Meet the Scientists
Dr. Fred Babweteera
Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism, Makawere University
Dr. Fred Babweteera was born in Uganda. He currently directs the BCFS, serves as the regional coordinator of research and conservation for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, and is an associate professor at Makerere University in Uganda. He has great experience teaching biologists and managing multidisciplinary conservation projects, and has worked with many stakeholders to develop ecosystem management plans. He sits on editorial boards of various scientific journals and has received numerous academic awards.
Mr. Geoffrey Muhanguzi
Mr. Geoffrey Muhanguzi, originally from Uganda, works as the field director for the BCFS. He runs daily operations, manages field staff for all BCFS projects, and coordinates with researchers. He has years of experience working on natural resources management projects in Uganda, and his current interests focus on wildlife conservation, specifically the conservation of forest habitats.
Prof. Philip Nyeko
Prof. Philip Nyeko is an Earthwatch scientist and native Ugandan. He is a professor and head of the Department of Forestry at Makerere University, and has over 15 years of university teaching and research experience. He has also been involved in several forestry and agroforestry outreach activities in eastern Africa, and has done extensive research on insect biology, ecology, and management. Among other professional activities, he chairs the Executive Committee of the Uganda National Agricultural Forum for Training.
Mr. Zephyr Kiwedde
Mr. Zephyr Kiwedde was born in Uganda and is the BCFS’s field station administrator, a position he earned after many years of committed service to BCFS; he began working there as field assistant in 1991, when the field station first opened. He holds a diploma in forestry, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public administration.