Changing perceptions of protected area benefits and problems around Kibale National Park, Uganda


Catrina A. MacKenzie,  Jonathan Salerno, Joel Hartter, Colin A. Chapman, Rafael Reyna,  David Mwesigye Tumusiime,  Michael Drake Journal of Environmental Management

Date Published


Local residents’ changing perceptions of benefits and problems from living next to a protected area in western Uganda are assessed by comparing household survey data from 2006, 2009, and 2012. Findings are contextualized and supported by long-term data sources for tourism, protected area-based employment, tourism revenue sharing, resource access agreements, and problem animal abundance. We found decreasing perceived benefit and increasing perceived problems associated with the protected area over time, with both trends dominated by increased human-wildlife conflict due to recovering elephant numbers. Proportions of households claiming benefit from specific conservation strategies were increasing, but not enough to offset crop raiding. Ecosystem services mitigated perceptions of problems. As human and animal populations rise, wildlife authorities in Sub-Saharan Africa will be challenged to balance perceptions and adapt policies to ensure the continued existence of protected areas. Understanding the dynamic nature of local people’s perceptions provides a tool to adapt protected area management plans, prioritize conservation resources, and engage local communities to support protected areas.