Farming the Forest Edge: Vulnerable Places and People around Kibale National Park, Uganda

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    Farming the Forest Edge: Vulnerable Places and People around Kibale National Park, UgandaAuthor(s): Lisa Naughton-TrevesSource: Geographical Review, Vol. 87, No. 1 (Jan., 1997), pp. 27-46Published by: American Geographical SocietyStable URL: .Accessed: 09/05/2014 16:48

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    ABSTRACT. Subsistence farmers near Kibale National Park, Uganda, fear and resent many wildlife species. In this article I compare records of crop damage by wildlife and livestock with local complaints about the worst animals and the most vulnerable crops. I discuss the concordance and discrepancies in complaints versus actual damage in light of physical pa- rameters of risk and of social factors that shape perceptions and vulnerabilities. Crop losses were greatest at the edge of the forest, where immigrants are disproportionately represented. State proprietorship of wildlife amplifies local vulnerability and constrains traditional cop- ing strategies, such as hunting. Keywords: EastAfrica, riskperception, Uganda, wildlife conser- vation.

    Throughout much of Africa and Asia large mammals cause crop losses among agriculturalists near protected areas (Adams and McShane 1992; Sukumar 1994; Tchamba 1996). At a global scale these depredations are insignificant compared with the damage done by invertebrates and rodents. In regions where large or dangerous animals are prominent, however, an entire season's production maybe lost in a single night, and farmers will risk their lives to defend crops or livestock.'

    Many conservationists view human-wildlife conflict as a critical new problem created by growing rural populations settling in or near wildlife habitats. More his- torically aware experts realize that agriculturalists have lost crops and livestock to wild animals for centuries (Crosby 1986; Vansina 1990; Sukumar 1994). A geographi- cal approach makes sense of this age-old conflict and of the role of contemporary so- cial and ecological processes in creating distinctive patterns of risk. The spatial distribution, frequency, and extent of crop loss must be examined, as must the socioecological factors that shape individual coping abilities and perception of risk.

    Geographers who investigate environmental risk have by and large ignored the threats that wildlife poses to human welfare. This omission reflects an emphasis on geophysical or technological hazards. Pest hazards differ, in that losses tend to be fre- quent and to vary according to the type of animal. Farmers must therefore make complex and constant decisions about coping strategies (Goldman 1986). Adding further complications, wildlife damage varies considerably from site to site, and in- dividual farmers have unequal capacities for coping with losses. Smallholder, sub- sistence farmers are least likely to tolerate risk (Scott 1976; Porter 1979).

    The social significance of crop loss to wildlife may best be understood in terms of vulnerability, broadly defined as the potential for loss (Cutter 1996). Vulnerability exists in both geographical and social space (Liverman 1990; Dow 1992). Across much of East Africa, deforestation and the extirpation of wildlife during the past

    *fi DR. NAUGHTON-TREVES is an assistant professor of geography at University of Wisconsin, Madi- son, Wisconsin 53706.

    The Geographical Review 87 (1): 27-46, January 1997 Copyright ? 1997 by the American Geographical Society of New York

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    century have reduced the geographical extent of the areas that are vulnerable to crop damage by large mammals. For example, between 1924 and 1994 elephants' range in Uganda declined from more than 70 percent to less than 8 percent of the country (Brooks and Buss 1962; World Resources Institute 1994). At the same time, current sociopolitical conditions, including a ban on hunting, amplify the vulnerability of those who farm the edges of protected areas.

    Despite growing attention to human-wildlife conflict around protected areas, uncertainty persists about the actual magnitude of the problem. Technical experts claim that local farmers exaggerate crop damage in hopes of compensation (Wake- ley and Mitchell 1981; Bell 1984). Other studies suggest that megafauna, such as ele- phants or rhinoceroses, are unjustly blamed for damage and that smaller animals, such as rodents or primates, cause greater losses over time (Gesicho 1991; Hawkes 1991). Domesticated animals may cause considerable damage to crops without elic- iting strong public complaint (Graham 1973; Wade 1986; Naughton-Treves 1996). Few studies carefully compare local perceptions of loss with systematically meas- ured damage, a gap generally found in hazard research (Kasperson 1992).

    In this article I compare the complaints of "worst animals" and assessments of most vulnerable crops by farmers around Kibale National Park with systematic rec- ords of crop damage by wildlife and livestock. I also analyze the influence of ethnic- ity, gender, and affluence on local perceptions of the worst animals and the most vulnerable crops. Elsewhere these socioeconomic variables have been used to ex- plain general attitudes toward protected areas (Newmark and Leonard 1991; Bala- krishnan and Ndhlovu 1992). These variables, and the incidence of crop loss to wildlife, are found to shape local perceptions of the purpose and benefits of Kibale National Park. Finally, life on the edge of Kibale demonstrates how state wildlife pro- prietorship boosts local concerns about vulnerability to crop loss.


    For several centuries the Toro of western Uganda shared a forested landscape with wild animals of extraordinary diversity and density (Taylor 1962; Hamilton 1981) .2 Toro agriculturalists traditionally attempted to balance crop loss to mammals with bush-meat gains by trapping animals in and around their fields, a commonplace practice among African forest farmers (Koch 1968; Vansina 1990). Other coping strategies included planting widely dispersed fields, guarding, and rotational plant- ing (Naughton-Treves 1996). Nonetheless, crop damage by wildlife, particularly ele- phants, prevented the cultivation of some arable land (Osmaston 1959; Vansina 1990).

    The linked strategies of farming and hunting were decoupled in 19o6, when Brit- ish colonial authorities prohibited so-called native hunting and declared all wild animals the sole property of the Crown (Graham 1973). The colonial Ugandan Game Department protected royal game in parks for elite hunters and elsewhere initiated militaristic campaigns to eradicate problem animals, including elephants, hippo- potamuses, and leopards, so that the agricultural frontier could expand (Brooks and

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    UGANDA K AX K i b a l e \ t DR_ / CONGO

    Lake /


    tKibale National KENYA Park

    A IKibale

    A RWA~~


    A Monitoring and interview site

    A Interview site

    0 5 km m2--3 N

    FIG. 1-Kibale National Park and the study sites. (Cartography by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Cartography Laboratory)

    Buss 1962; Graham 1973; Booth, Kipuri, and Zonneveld 1992; Ville 1995). During subsequent decades the combined impact of colonial control, the ivory trade, defor- estation, and civil war removed large animals from much of western Uganda. Sur- viving wildlife were isolated in protected areas (Howard 1991).

    Few Toro farmers today have contact with large wild animals unless they live near Kibale National Park (Figure 1). Kibale is a 766-square-kilometer forest rem- nant rich in primates and other species (Struhsaker 1981a), including those notori-

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    ous for raiding crops, such as olive baboons (Papio cynocephalus), redtail monkeys (Cercopithecus ascanius), elephants (Loxodonta africana), and an unknown species of bushpig (Potamochoerus sp.).

    Currently, 54 percent of the land within 1 kilometer of Kibale's boundary is used for smallholder agriculture (Mugisha 1994). Farmers in the area belong to two pre- dominant ethnic groups, the long-resident Toro and the immigrant Kiga, who came to Kibale by the tens of thousands from southwestern Uganda during the 1950S and 1960S (Turyahikayo-Rugyema 1974). Toro chiefs traditionally allocated land to im- migrants on the outskirts of their settlements, hoping in the act to buffer Toro farm- ers from crop damage by wildlife (Aluma and others 1989). Today both groups interplant more than thirty species of subsistence and cash crops: Bananas, maize, beans, yams, and cassava cover the greatest area. Planting regimes vary by ethnicity. Toro favor brewing bananas and sweet potatoes and are likely to leave more of their farm in fallow. Kiga farmers plant more groundnuts, sorghum, and maize and use intensive and collective cultivation strategies (Naughton-Treves 1996). In both groups women generally assume responsibility for food crops, whereas men tend cash crops, such as brewing bananas. Farm sizes are small-1.4 hectares, on aver- age-and population density is high-272 individuals per square kilometer.3 Within this diverse farming system, various animals forage on subsistence and cash crops. As a result, many local cultivators are frustrated and resent the park.


    Farmers around Kibale have long hoped for compensation from the Ugandan gov- ernment for their crop losses. My arrival in June 1992 initially prompted hopes of compensation, particularly because many individuals believe that Kibale belongs to foreigners. The foremost aim in my research approach was to make data collection a transparent, participatory exercise. To that end, before I measured any damage or in- terviewed any farmers, I explained my goals and sought collective and individual permission. I hired seven local farmers as field assistants, all of whom were fluent in local languages, social customs, and agricultural practices and had personally expe- rienced the loss of crops to wildlife.

    Early in the study I carried out participatory-appraisal exercises in nine villages (Chambers 1991). Participants sketched maps of their farms and the forest and de- scribed patterns of crop loss to wildlife. Animated and lengthy group discussions en- sued. Participants also identified and ascribed point values to wealth indicators. For example, owning a tea plantation was worth five points; employing laborers, three points.

    Systematic data on the pattern of crop loss to wildlife and livestock were col- lected on a weekly basis for twenty-three months in ninety-seven farms at six moni- toring sites (Figure 1). A straight-line distance of approximately 25 kilometers separated the northernmost and southernmost sites. At each site a grid was super- imposed on farms, running 1 kilometer along the forest boundary and extending 0.5 kilometer away from the forest edge. Each grid was completely canvassed for crop

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    damage on a weekly basis. The crop type, amount of damage, distance from the for- est, and identity of animal were recorded for each damage event. Damage by ro- dents other than crested porcupines was not measured because my focus was on medium-to-large (more than 2 kilograms) mammals and because farmers com- plained primarily of rodent damage to harvested and stored food, not to standing crops.

    During the final months of monitoring (March and April 1994), field assistants interviewed the ninety-seven participating families about their perceived crop losses. Interviews were conducted in local languages (Rutoro or Rukiga), and the same introduction and standard questions were used throughout. Each interview lasted less than an hour. Answers to standard questions were interspersed with am- ple commentary. Data from the interviews were used to directly compare measured damage and perceived risk at the level of the individual farm. An additional fifty in- terviews were conducted in four villages selected randomly from parishes on the eastern side of Kibale (Figure 1). Two interviews that revealed internally inconsistent data were discarded. Thus 145 interviews were used to compare variation in risk per- ception by ethnicity, gender, and affluence.

    All individuals who stated that animals damaged crops on their farm were asked to list the animals and to identify the worst of them. If farmers could not identify a single worst animal, the order in which they listed worst animals was recorded, and the first mentioned was considered the worst in subsequent analyses.5 Respondents were also asked how recently animals had damaged crops, what crops were most of- ten damaged, whether the problem was changing over time, and what defensive strategies they and their neighbors used.

    Interviewers recorded the respondents' ethnicity and sex. Employment with Ki- bale was recorded if any family member had earned wages during the past five years with any forest conservation, research, or tourism organization. A respondent's affluence was ranked according to the wealth indicators identified in participatory- appraisal exercises. A farm's distance to the forest boundary was measured in meters from the point closest to the forest. Farm size was surveyed at a resolution of 250 square meters and categorized as small (less than 0.5 hectare), medium (0.5-3 hec- tares), or large (more than 3 hectares).

    Individual attitudes toward the environment are a complex mix of affect and cognition and are ultimately impossible to ascertain (Tuan 1974; Heberlein 1981). Rather than ask interviewees directly whether they supported Kibale National Park, the assistants asked them to identify the management goals and intended beneficiar- ies of the park.


    Data from the ninety-seven farms around Kibale identified fifteen species that were principally responsible for crop damage (Table I). Redtail monkeys were the most frequent crop forager, followed bylivestock (cattle and goats) and baboons. Baboons damaged the greatest area of crops, followed by elephants and redtail monkeys. Ele-

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    Redtail monkeyc Cercopithecus ascanius 1,252 16 ? 23 (1-625) 15 88 Livestock Capra sp., Bos sp. 414 52 ? 76 (1-2,000) 8 79 Olive baboon Papio cynocephalus 228 136 ? 350 (1-2,774) 24 72 Bushpig Potamochoerus sp. 208 94 ? 180 (1-2,080) 15 72 Palm civet Nandinia binotata 38 29 ? 16 (1-202) 1 26 Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes 146 61 ? 219 (3-2,500) 7 15 Elephant Loxodonta africana 34 874 ? 1,530 (9-6,510) 21 8 Black-and-white Colobus guereza 11 11 ? 7 (1-21)


    phants caused greater damage in a single raid than did any other animal. Farmers face unpredictable and potentially catastrophic losses to elephants, whereas redtail monkeys raid frequently and damage crops in predictably small amounts.

    More than go percent of all crop depredation by wildlife occurred within 160 meters of the forest boundary (Figure 2). The peak in raiding activity at about 60 meters is due to abundant fallows immediately at the forest edge. Occasionally ani- mals damaged crops beyond 450 meters from the forest edge. One evening during my research, elephants ravaged a banana field 2 kilometers from the forest, but this was their first raid on the farm in almost sixty years. Proximity to the forest is a strong predictor of crop loss to large mammals at Kibale and elsewhere in Africa, particularly when forests are surrounded by densely settled agricultural areas (Bell 1984; Plumptre and Bizumuremyi 1996).

    The preferred crop for raiding differed for each of the five most frequent animal visitors (Table II). Baboons and bushpigs targeted maize and cassava preferentially. Chimpanzees, elephants, and redtail monkeys damaged banana fields with greater frequency than predicted by crop availability.

    The amount of damage varied by crop and was positively skewed; that is, most fields suffered little damage, but some were damaged heavily. Of fields within 450 meters of the forest boundary, cassava plantings suffered a seasonal average damage of 7 percent, by area, to wildlife; banana plantations, 4 percent; and maize crops, 6 percent.

    Local assessment of loss was widespread: Eighty-seven percent of the 145 respon- dents reported losing foodstuffs to animals. Damaged farms were an average dis- tance of 167 meters from the forest; undamaged farms, 346 meters. Farmers on the forest edge reported an average of fifteen days since the last raid, versus an average of fifty-two days for all respondents. The majority (85 percent) of 141 farmers perceived the problem to be worsening.

    Farmers listed ten crops most vulnerable to wildlife (Table III). The labor in- vested by an individual farmer in a specific crop influenced rankings of crop vulner- ability. Men complained more frequently about damage to bananas, for example, and women about damage to cassava. Toro respondents were more likely to identify brewing bananas and sweet potatoes as vulnerable, whereas Kiga often singled out maize. Assessments of crop vulnerability matched gender- and ethnicity-based la- bor investments in cultivating certain crops.

    Baboons were the most often identified worst animals, followed by bushpigs and elephants (Table IV). No farmer complained of crop loss to livestock. Assessments of what constituted the worst animal reflected an individual's social identity. Men complained more frequently about elephants than did women. Nontokozo Nabane observed a similar pattern in rural Zimbabwe, where men complained more fre- quently about elephants than did women, who were concerned about crop loss to primates and other smaller mammals (Nabane 1997). Kiga described baboons as the worst pests. Toro farmers complained more about elephants; few farms sustained elephant damage, however, and those that did belonged to both Kiga and Toro farm-

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    ANIMAL First Second Third

    Baboon Maize Sweet potato Groundnuts Bushpig Cassava Yam Sweet potato Chimpanzee Brewing banana Sweet banana Sugarcane Elephant Sweet banana Cooking banana Sweet potato Redtail monkey Sweet banana Maize Brewing banana

    a Based on a comparison of frequency of raids with temporal and spatial availability. The first crop was raided significantly more often than expected (chi-squared p




    Rank (and Rank (and Rank (and Number of Percentage) of the Percentage) of Percentage) of the

    ANIMAL Complaintsa Worst Animalb Damage Eventsc Area Damagedd

    Baboon 86 1(36) 3 (9) 1 (24) Redtail monkey 84 4 (10) 1 (51) 3 (15) Bushpig 83 2(28) 4 (8) 3 (15) Elephant 32 3 (14) 8 (1) 2 (21) Chimpanzee 20 6 (1) 5 (6) 5 (7) Rodent 9 5 (2) - - Bird 9 - - - Palmcivet 3 - 7 (1) 7 (1) Vervet monkey 4 6 (1) 6 (4) 6 (2) Livestock 0 - 2 (17) 4 (8)

    a Answers by ninety-seven farmers to the question, "What animals raid your farm?" b Answers by ninety-seven farmers to the question, "What is the worst raider on your farm?" c A total Of 1,873 events were monitored over twenty-three months. d A total of 13 hectares were damaged over twenty-three months.

    Kibale Park, where individuals lost on average 4 to 7 percent of their crops per sea- son. Yet almost all respondents complained vociferously about the severity of the problem, even those who farmed as far as 1 kilometer from the forest. Anger about crop loss to wildlife was expressed most intensely during group discussions. A typi- cal outburst was, "These animals leave us poor and hungry. Why should we starve so that baboons may eat?"

    The contrast between local risk perceptions and technically measured damage can be explained in part by variation in the frequency and magnitude of crop loss. Although crop losses generally averaged less than 10 percent, 7 percent of farmers lost more than 50 percent of their planted maize and cassava. In other words, local perception of risk around Kibale reflects the extreme of damage, not the average losses, a pattern consistent with the larger body of hazards studies (Kasperson 1992).

    The focus on extreme events also suggests why farmers complained less about redtail monkeys and small animals than about larger animals (Table IV). Small ani- mals do not destroy an entire field in a single raid; their damage is self-limiting (Bur- ton, Kates, and White 1978). Bushpigs were blamed more often than the measured damage would predict; elephants were ranked third, even though they caused more damage than did bushpigs. This, though, is likely thanks to the localized nature of elephant crop-raiding behavior (Naughton-Treves 1998). Elephants targeted only eight farms in three villages that are notorious for losing their crops to elephants. Meanwhile, the single class of crop-raiding large animal exempt from complaint was livestock. Not one individual described goats or cattle as the worst animals, de- spite the fact that livestock were the second most frequent crop raiders, the inflictors of 11 percent of all damage.

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    FIG. 3-All elephant foraging at dusk near Kibale National Park in May 1995. (Photograph by the author)

    By comparing discrepancies between perceived and measured damage at the level of an individual farm, intervillage variability is negated. Although livestock were responsible for the greatest number of crop raids in 23 percent of monitored farms and caused the most damage in 13 percent, no farmer complained of crop loss to livestock, as I mentioned above. Eighty-eight out Of 97 monitored farms suffered steady damage by redtails, but only ten farmers described redtails as worst animals, underreported at 12.5 percent. Elephants damaged crops at only eight farms, but fourteen farmers overreported them at 175 percent as the worst animal. Elephants can destroy an entire farm in a single night, which can create an immediate "subsis- tence crisis" (Scott 1976). Local farmers are also well aware of the physical danger posed by elephants (Figure 3). Only elephant damage caused people to abandon their farms, a high-cost response noted elsewhere in Africa (Barnes 1g99).

    Farmers' perceptions of crop vulnerability did not correspond closely to the monitored frequency of damage. Bananas covered 64 percent of cultivated land and were targeted in 70 percent of damage events. Only 15 percent of the farmers de- scribed it as the most vulnerable crop, however. More farmers (38 percent) cited maize as the crop most prone to damage, and, in fact, this crop suffered damage ap- proximately two times more frequently than was expected from the area planted.

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    Although bananas sustained most of the damage, farmers perceived maize and sweet potatoes to be the crops most prone to damage. Maize and sweet potatoes were preferred by baboons and bushpigs, and on occasion these animals destroyed entire fields of these crops. No banana field was ever entirely consumed, even by elephants. This is due in part to a dramatic difference in field sizes-maize fields were, on aver- age, about 1 percent the size of brewing-banana fields. The potential for total loss may shape local perception more than do frequent, small losses. Another key differ- ence is that, unlike bananas, maize and sweet potatoes have relatively short growing seasons, in which an entire field of plants ripens simultaneously. If damage occurs any time after the first few weeks of growth, a farmer must wait until the next season to replant (Goldman 1986). An entire season's maize production is at risk when ba- boons enter a field near harvest time. Losing maize and sweet potatoes is especially significant because they are both staple food crops-and their loss creates immediate food insecurity (Porter 1979; Hill 1997).


    Proximity to the forest is the most powerful overall predictor of crop damage to wild- life at Kibale. Whereas most Toro and Kiga farmers in the general vicinity of Kibale do not worry about crop loss to wildlife other than birds and rodents, those at the for- est edge are exposed to frequent losses to primates and to infrequent but potentially catastrophic losses to elephants and bushpigs.

    When farmers were asked whether they would prefer to live on the edge of Kibale or on a more distant farm, their unanimous choice was the latter. Farmers on the edge explained that the reason they do not move is because land is more readily available and generally less expensive on the forest edge than elsewhere, reflecting the greater risk of crop loss in this zone. Within this narrow zone of farms at the for- est edge, a community exists that is distinct from the general rural population around Kibale. Far from being socially or ecologically homogeneous, this narrow zone is inhabited by farmers differentiated by wealth, gender, and ethnicity. In turn, these attributes are linked to varied capacities to cope and to distinct levels of vul- nerability.

    Interviews, participatory-appraisal mapping exercises, and government census data all indicate that Kiga immigrants are disproportionately represented on the for- est edge. The same sources show that farms at the edge are more likely to be pur- chased or rented (versus inherited) than are farms elsewhere. This pattern of settlement and land tenure reflects the history of Toro chiefs allocating land (and risk) to immigrants on the settlement outskirts, in essence buffering Toro farmers from crop damage by wildlife (Aluma and others 1989). A similar risk-distribution pattern was observed by Catherine Hill at Budongo Forest in northwestern Uganda, where Congolese immigrants were disproportionately represented at the forest edge (Hill 1997). Immigrants outnumber indigenous peoples around many protected ar- eas in the tropics and hence are more vulnerable to crop losses to wildlife (Milton and Binney 1980; Salafsky 1992; Peterson Forthcoming).

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    The disproportionate presence of Kiga at Kibale's edge follows environmental- risk theory, with the most vulnerable people residing in the most risk-prone regions (Susman, OKeefe, and Wisner 1983). Minority communities, in particular, may re- side in marginal areas and have lower coping capacities than other community members (Dow 1992). However, living on the edge of Kibale National Park and suffering elevated risk of crop loss to wildlife may be counterbalanced with benefits. Living next to the forest also allows ready access to various resources, especially fuel- wood (Naughton-Treves 1996). Kiga residing at the forest edge also own larger farms than do other farmers in the region. A parallel example is found in Nepal, where im- migrant "hill people" outnumber traditional groups on the edge of Royal Chitawan National Park (Milton and Binney 1980). These immigrants suffer the most crop damage from wildlife (rhinoceroses, chital, and wild pigs) but are gaining economic power over traditional residents (Milton and Binney 1980). Economic gains may ul- timately enable immigrants to cope better with crop losses.

    Farmers who reside on the edge of Kibale have varying capacities to cope with crop losses to wildlife. Each farmer's coping strategies are constrained and facilitated by complex factors that operate at different levels. At the individual level, for exam- ple, the owner of a small farm near the forest suffers serious constraints on coping strategies (Figure 4). Specifically, smallholders have less choice in locating crops of different palatability. They cannot plant a buffer of bananas between maize fields and the forest edge, a strategy used by most of the large farm owners around Kibale. More vulnerable still are individuals who rent land at the forest edge. Custom keeps them from planting bananas or other perennials. Instead they plant maize and sweet potatoes, two crops locally identified as highly vulnerable.

    Some affluent owners of large farms also use pasture to separate their food crops from the forest edge (Figure 5). These options are not available to a subsistence farmer with only a small plot and minimal capital. Affluent farmers may also employ others (often others' children) to guard their fields. Poorer farmers must either face the risk of crop loss with no guard posted or sacrifice other opportunities, such as schooling, to leave a child vigilant over crops.

    No correlation was evident between gender and farm size. Toro and Kiga women alike maintained farms comparable in size to other local farmers. Women's land se- curity was enhanced in the public realm if they shared their farm with an adult son. However, women's farms of all sizes were less likely to include crop-raiding buffers, such as pastures or large banana plantations, than were farms belonging to men.

    Individual vulnerability was also influenced by the activities of neighbors. Kiga farmers were more likely to cooperate in guarding one another's fields than were Toro farmers, reducing individual time investments in guarding and/or reducing the incidence of unguarded fields (Naughton-Treves 1998). Kibale farmers do not hunt communally, but a farmer who lives in a village where others hunt in their fields will suffer lower levels of damage, even if he himself does not hunt. Overall, an indi- vidual's best defense against losing crops to wildlife is to have a neighbor's crops be- tween him and the forest. Today large landholders, including Kiga farmers, use this

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    FIG. 4-Cultivating maize at the forest edge, Kibale National Park, in May 1995. (Photograph by the author)

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    FIG. 5-Cattle pastures serve as buffers between forest and banana field near Kibale in April 1995. (Photograph by the author)

    defense by renting plots to other farmers immediately along the forest boundary. Researchers elsewhere in Africa have also noted that a densely settled band of farms forms the best barrier to wildlife incursions deep into agricultural lands (Bell 1984; Hawkes 1991; Hill 1997).

    Beyond individual or community-level factors influencing coping strategies, farmers universally complained that their traditional defensive options are curtailed by the government: They cannot kill raiding wildlife or chase them deep into the for- est. Farmers cannot legally hunt or trap wildlife without formal permission from the Game Department. During meetings and interviews, a consensus emerged that local defensive options are constrained by government ownership of wildlife. This view of wildlife as state property caused considerable resentment. Many farmers bitterly referred to elephants as "the government's cattle" (a view observed in the Nambize Valley by Matzke and Nabane 1996). Other animals, such as chimpanzees, were re- ferred to as the property of foreign researchers: "Why should I feed these animals? They are not my animals" was a typical sentiment. A widespread belief was that gov- ernment causes the problem and is therefore responsible for helping to guard, cull animals, or build a fence.

    Proprietorship explains in part why Kibale farmers did not complain about live- stock damage. When a goat or cow damages crops, customary law holds that the owner of the animal must compensate the victim, a practice in no way limited to Af-

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    rica (Wade 1986). Field owners or guards will even capture a raiding goat or cow and hold it for ransom until the owner pays for its depredation. Farmers repeatedly call the government a bad neighbor, because it allows its "livestock" to damage other people's crops. Seldom do they admit that many farmers frequently-and ille- gally-graze their livestock within the boundaries of Kibale National Park. The tra- ditional, local social contracts regarding grazing rights and restitution for livestock damage to crops are dysfunctional between farmers and the park.

    Respondents were also asked to describe the purpose of the park. More than half the respondents (56 percent) identified wildlife protection as the central purpose and/or they believed that Kibale was for government profit (40 percent), rainfall protection (35 percent), and tourism (25 percent). When asked specifically whether local people benefit from the park, 84 percent answered yes. Ironically, the two most frequently identified local benefits were illegal activities: collecting fuelwood (44 percent) and building material (28 percent). Neither gender, ethnicity, years of residence, distance from the forest, employment with the park, nor affluence influenced whether an individual identified local benefits of Kibale. If an individual complained of elephant damage, however, he or she was more likely not to perceive any local benefits. Where elephant raiding is frequent, the costs of living near Kibale outweigh its benefits.

    A positive attitude toward a protected area or recognition of its goals does not necessarily lead to behavior that is supportive of its conservation (Heberlein 1981). Even farmers who acknowledged that Kibale served to protect wildlife would set snares or poison bait on their farms for raiding animals. At a broader level, although most respondents understood that Kibale served to protect wildlife, farmers de- scribed certain animal species in negative terms. Baboons were described as crafty and a menace to women and children (Figure 6), a view echoed by Mundanthra Balakrishnan and Dora Ndhlovu (1992). Many farmers complained that baboons uprooted crops purely to be malicious. Some described chimpanzees as rapists or thieves. They resented bushpigs for their nocturnal raiding habits, and they feared elephants greatly. These negative attitudes undoubtedly amplify local perceptions of vulnerability.


    Social and ecological processes operating at various levels have created a distinct pat- tern of vulnerability around Kibale National Park. The conversion of Uganda's for- ests to agriculture during the twentieth century, combined with colonial vermin- control programs and heavy poaching, has greatly reduced human-wildlife conflict at the national level. Most Ugandan farmers no longer worry about crop loss to large mammals. Elephants once ranged over 70 percent of Uganda and threatened re- gional agricultural production (Brooks and Buss 1962; Graham 1973); now human- elephant conflict occurs only in the vicinity of parks and reserves that encompass less than 8 percent of Uganda (World Resources Institute 1994).

    Although the risk of crop loss to wildlife has been confined to a narrow popula- tion of farmers, the coping capacity of these farmers is constrained by social, eco-

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    nomic, and political factors. Farmers around Kibale can reduce their risk of crop loss in part by guarding their fields or by planting less palatable crops or pasture near the forest boundary. Some farmers have managed to increase the size of their farms at the forest boundary by buying more land. This strategy may reduce risk because large farms are less likely to lose an entire season's production from a single incur- sion by wildlife. Other farmers, though, have rented out the parts of their farms adja- cent to forest. The traditional pattern of allocating the most vulnerable land to immigrant farmers persists, though today the low price and greater availability of land near the forest determines land distribution more than do chiefs' decisions. Ul- timately, the most vulnerable individuals are those who grow food crops on farms of less than 1 hectare, within 200 meters of the forest, in villages where elephants are common.

    Local perceptions of risk are amplified by institutional constraints on coping strategies. Farmers feel especially vulnerable to large animals, such as elephants and bushpigs, which inflict localized, infrequent, and potentially catastrophic losses. The perceptions of these farmers reflect rare, extreme-damage events rather than persistent, small losses that cumulatively may be greater. The complex interplay of actual risk and the effectiveness of each farmer's coping strategies is filtered through a cultural and socioeconomic perspective, which yields an overall assessment for each farmer of his or her position or status with respect to the park and its wildlife.

    Human-wildlife conflict is not a new problem in Africa or elsewhere. The con- temporary conflict between farmers and wildlife at the edge of Uganda's parks and reserves echoes the traditional pattern of conflict on African agricultural frontiers. In historic times agricultural frontiers were dynamic. At some sites shifts in animal distribution or movements forced farmers to abandon cultivation due to heavy crop losses or danger (Osmaston 1959; Vansina 1990). More recently, as problem animals have been eradicated, a constraint on settled agriculture has been removed, and the frontier has expanded (Graham 1973). Now park edges mark a permanent "frontier" where wildlife habitat meets agriculture or other intensive human land uses. What is novel about today's problem is that the government is attempting to maintain sub- stantial wildlife populations adjacent to densely settled agriculture, while also limit- ing farmers' traditional coping strategies.

    From a national or international perspective, a loss of about 7 percent of planted fields within 450 meters of Kibale's boundary appears a trivial price for maintaining threatened habitat and biological diversity. However, local residents protest vehe- mently against use of their land for what they call "grazing the governments' ani- mals." The human-wildlife conflict at the edge of Kibale serves as a vivid example of one of the greatest dilemmas in contemporary conservation: balancing global envi- ronmental goals with local residents' concerns. The global mandate to conserve wildlife imposes risk on Kibale's neighbors, who vary in their capacity to cope with crop losses. Although most local farmers recognized the purpose of Kibale National Park and acknowledged obtaining benefits from it, they were intolerant of the risk of crop loss to wildlife, particularly elephants.

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    The managers of Kibale National Park hope to improve local tolerance for crop loss by channeling nature-tourism revenues to local communities through village- level councils (Mugisha 1996). They have also initiated pilot efforts to ameliorate crop losses by comanaging buffer zones of nonpalatable crops with local farmers. These efforts are patterned after collaborative management efforts elsewhere in Af- rica, primarily in savannah settings and among pastoral peoples (Lewis 1988; Kiss 1990). Similar success at Kibale National Park will be difficult, however, because of high human population densities, ethnic heterogeneity, and the historical pattern of conflict between wildlife and sedentary agriculturalists. Beyond technical or eco- nomic solutions to human-wildlife conflict, the greatest challenge in the long term is to build legitimate institutions for decision making and negotiation between local citizens and conservation authorities regarding the allocation of risk and benefits around Kibale National Park.


    1. Between 1989 and 1994, wildlife killed 230 people and injured 218 more in Kenya alone (Feral


    2. The Toro and the Kiga belong to the ethnic group broadly defined as the Wvestern Lacustrine Bantu (Ingham 1978). In the text I have omitted the Bantu prefix Ba-, so Batoro becomes Toro, and Bakiga becomes Kiga.

    3. Farm-size and population-density figures refer only to smallholdings. More extensive land uses within 1.5 kilometers of Kibale include forest fragments (24 percent), tea estates (1o percent), and grassland (lo percent) (Mugisha 1994).

    4. Amounts of damage and distance measures were calibrated by having observers sequentially canvass the same area. Animals were identified by spoor, dental impressions in plants, diggings, and other physical remains. The accuracy and reliability of species identification were tested seasonally on events of known origin in blind, interobserver tests. Interobserver variation in identifying animals was insignificant except for the closely related Cercopithecus Ihoesti and C. ascanius. I combine these congeners as C. ascanius because this species was responsible for twenty of the twenty-one visually observed events and has a much higher population density in Kibale (Struhsaker 198ib). For further details on methods, including a discussion of determining independence in damage events, see Naughton-Treves 1998.

    5. The Rutoro word for animals, ebisoro, does not include birds, so the frequency with which people complained about birds may be underestimated.

    6. For a parallel in the United States, see Conover 1988; Lewis 1988.


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    Article Contentsp. [27]p. 28p. 29p. 30p. 31p. 32p. 33p. 34p. 35p. 36p. 37p. 38p. 39p. 40p. 41p. 42p. 43p. 44p. 45p. 46

    Issue Table of ContentsGeographical Review, Vol. 87, No. 1 (Jan., 1997), pp. i-ii+1-138Front Matter [pp. i-ii]Promotional Imagery of Glacier National Park [pp. 1-26]Farming the Forest Edge: Vulnerable Places and People around Kibale National Park, Uganda [pp. 27-46]Humanature's River [pp. 47-57]Vietnamese American Place Making in Northern Virginia [pp. 58-72]Landscape Permanence and Nuclear Warnings [pp. 73-91]Geographical RecordPainting, Art History, and Geography [pp. 92-99]Changes in Reproductive Behavior in Bangladesh [pp. 100-104]

    Geographical Field NotesLand-Use Decision Making Using Local Soil Knowledge on the Lower Amazon Floodplain [pp. 105-108]

    Geographical ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 109-110]Review: untitled [pp. 111-112]Review: untitled [pp. 112-114]Review: untitled [pp. 115-117]Review: untitled [pp. 117-118]Review: untitled [pp. 118-120]Review: untitled [pp. 120-122]Review: untitled [pp. 122-124]Review: untitled [pp. 124-125]Review: untitled [pp. 126-128]Review: untitled [pp. 128-129]Review: untitled [pp. 129-131]Review: untitled [pp. 131-132]Review: untitled [pp. 132-134]

    Back Matter [pp. 135-138]


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