Elephant damage and tree response in restored parts of Kibale National Park, Uganda
Tumusiime, David Mwesigye
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Elephant tree damage is a key factor in conservation and restoration efforts of African rain forests. This study was conducted between June 2009 and February 2010 to examine elephant damage and tree response in restored parts of Kibale National Park, a rain forest in Uganda. First gazetted as Forest Reserve in 1932, the area had its southern block settled and degraded through human utilization between 1970 and 1987. In 1992, the government of Uganda relocated the settled people and embarked on a restoration process. Whereas, trees such as Ficus species exhibited high coping abilities to elephant damage through re-sprouting, coppicing and bark recovery; Prunus Africana struggled because it is highly preferred by elephant for feeding and is also demanded by humans. Whereas, options that can minimize elephant damage through selective planting of less desired species may be successful, these will deflect the problem of elephant damage to local farmers through experiences of increased crop raiding as the animals search for preferred forage. A more accommodative approach that includes desirable species which can cope with damage; and the protection of endangered species that happen to be desired by both humans and elephant may be more rewarding.