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Mubare biodiveristy conservation

Mubare Biodiveristy Conservation (formerly BDN) are a community-based project located near the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Southwestern Uganda. Their work centres around reforming traditional poachers and giving them sustainable alternative livelihoods. Not only does this work protect the endangered mountain gorillas that live in the national park, but also gives the people living in the frontline communities a better quality of life. 

Leading the way with this project is founder and director Alex Ngabirano, whose role consists of giving educational talks and training to ex-poachers, providing gorilla treks for tourists, and running a number of other tourism experiences. 

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Alex

Ngabirano

Founder and Director

History

Alex Ngabirano is a proud Ugandan who has always had a passion for wildlife and its protection. Alex saw that without working with local communities, it would be impossible to protect the mountain gorillas that live in and around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and so he founded the Bwindi Development Network in 2014.

Working within his local community to reduce the pressures of human-wildlife conflict, Alex set out on a mission of understanding and education. Alex focused on the people that depended on hunting for their livelihoods, often they would set traps in the forest that would kill wildlife and sometimes gorilla. 

After great success over the years, Alex has now renamed the project to Mubare Biodiversity Conservation, spreading his amazing work beyond the villages of Bwindi, creating more of a positive impact. 

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Reformed Poachers

Since 2014, Alex and the team have been able to work with 305 local poachers, convincing them to turn in their traps and snares and stop hunting in the local forest. 

How was this achieved? Well, MBC needed to create alternative incomes for the poachers that would not disturb local wildlife. Through the creation of many sustainable livelihood schemes, Alex and the team were able to support poachers and their family to remove the dependence on hunting. 

One of these schemes was to create a cultural poaching experience at the MBC centre where tourists can come and learn about the local communities and witness traditional hunting methods. This as well as sustainable farming techniques and livestock programs such as rabbits, means the poachers no longer have to turn to the forest to make a living. 

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Education

Education is at the heart of the work done at MBC. Education is used as a tool of change, showing community members and especially the next generation that there are ways to support their families without harming wildlife. 

The MBC team work with local communities and schools to teach participants about the importance of environmental protection. Most importantly participants are taught how to make a sustainable living through tourism and more efficient farming and livestock techniques.

So far MBC has - 

- Engaged 3,050 households in education activities

- Worked with 10 local schools on education programs

- Hosted 250 students annually at the centre

- Supported 8 schools with clean drinking water access

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Community Garden

The newest part of MBC's journey is the community garden. Alex had some land adjacent to the centre that was used for eucalypts trees. However, he has decided to stop this unsustainable land use and turn the area in to a community garden. 

This area will now be planted with native trees to support local biodiversity. MBC will also use the area to plant fruits and vegetables using permaculture methodologies. The garden will be used as an educational tool to show community members what they can do with their land. Produce from the garden can also be shared with those in need. 

Most excitedly, the new volunteer program will be the ones really helping with this garden, to maintain and monitor the progress of this exciting new project. 

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My name is Mugyenyi Sadayo and come from the Mukono Village in South Western Uganda and I am married with two children. I first turned to poaching due to a lack of basic needs like food and money, and needed a way to support my family. I used to like poaching duikers, bush pigs, porcupine and civet. We had problems with Gorillas and I would fight them in defence but they were not our target.

 

The Bwindi Development Network helped me move away from poaching and incentivised me to conserve and protect wildlife. They educated me on the diseases you can easily get from eating wildlife animals and they continued to call us for meetings and training and we are always given lunch and a transport refund. The project continues to support us and improve our livelihoods so we no longer have to turn to poaching.

 

I now make money through growing crops, making crafts and selling them to tourists and lodges. I also provide an educational poaching experience at our Bwinid Reformed Poacher's Centre to tourists. The Bwindi Development Network is very important to me as they have improved my well-being and I have never thought of going back to poach and kill wildlife animals.

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"WHy I Stopped poaching"

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How you can help

Due to the lack of lack of tourism since the COVID-19 pandemic, the project has become reliant on donations to continue their work reforming poachers. Please watch the video below and please get in touch if you are able to help with funds. You can also help the project by taking part in a gorilla trek or one of the other tourism experiences that the project offers. Please visit the Mubare Biodiversity Conservation website for more information on eco-tourism as well as volunteering opportunities. 

Check out the Mubare Biodiverity COnservation website by clicking the logo

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