The Queen, the Crown and Conservation

Beekeeping provides sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by Covid-19 and promotes conservation of wildlife in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park

Their vision: a world where humans and wildlife co-exist peacefully.

Their mission: to support biodiversity conservation and foster sustainable livelihoods and resilience for communities in and around Uganda’s protected areas.  

Wildlife flourishing with people - local community fishing in the foreground and African Elephants in the background, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

The Enjojo Wildlife Foundation was established in 2019 in response to the enormous pressure on Uganda’s wildlife and their habitats.

In the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, this pressure comes from an increase in the human population, coupled with ongoing poaching. 

Elephant in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

The Enjojo Wildlife Foundation is working to find and implement solutions that work for both people and wildlife.

The Foundation believes that conservation of Uganda’s wildlife and ecosystems can only be sustainable if the communities bordering the park are economically empowered and actively involved in this conservation.

Wildlife flourishing with people - local community fishing in the foreground and African Elephants in the background, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Wildlife flourishing with people - local community fishing in the foreground and African Elephants in the background, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Elephant in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Elephant in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Queen Elizabeth National Park is a biodiversity-rich landscape made up of acacia forests, savannahs, woodlands, fig trees, and numerous bird species.

It is also famous for its elephants, chimpanzees, and tree climbing lions.



A pair of tree climbing lions. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

A pair of tree climbing lions. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

Bordering the Ishasha sector of the park, the village of Kameme is characterized by high poverty with few economic opportunities for its residents, who rely on tourism as a source of income through the sale of handmade crafts and honey, as well as through direct employment in the lodges around the park.

Evidence of agricultural pressure and deforestation, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Evidence of agricultural pressure and deforestation, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Placemats made by the women of Kameme village. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

Placemats made by the women of Kameme village. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

The women of Kameme village showcase their weaving skills with products being used and sold to tourists at the Enjojo Lodge. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

The women of Kameme village showcase their weaving skills with products being used and sold to tourists at the Enjojo Lodge. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

The Queen and the Crown

But when Covid-19 hit and the village lost its primary source of income, the Enjojo Wildlife Foundation recognized that sustainable livelihoods were more important than ever, as these provide important alternatives to logging and poaching, which threaten the rich wildlife of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Perhaps fittingly, the people of Kameme have turned to a different kind of royal (regina apis, or ‘queen bee’) to cope with the fallout from a virus with its own regal connotation (coronavirus, named after its distinctive ‘crown’-shaped spike protein).

With support from the Enjojo Wildlife Foundation, 20 men and 20 women from Kameme village have been trained in beekeeping as an alternative source of income.

The Foundation has also purchased bees and queens to set up the practice, as well as the equipment needed to harvest, process, and package the honey.

Resilience in Wildlife Community Grants

In recognition of Covid-19’s world-altering effects, The Lion’s Share, and the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (SGP), implemented by UNDP, made a call for proposals to support communities dependent on wildlife-based tourism.

The Enjojo Wildlife Foundation is one of the nine successful grant recipients from the ‘COVID-19 Response: Resilience in Wildlife Communities’ initiative.

These grants, and the projects they’ve facilitated, have been working to build resilience in communities in wildlife-rich areas and support the continued protection of threatened wildlife in their remaining strongholds despite pandemic hardships.

Olive baboon (papio anubis), Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Waterbuck, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Olive baboon (papio anubis), Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Waterbuck, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

The hum of bees, the voice of conservation

Profits from the initial grant are being reinvested into Kameme village’s beekeeping business to expand its reach and ensure sustainability.

“The lemongrass works for the bees - for the purpose of them to feel happy. This is a good smell for them.” The citronella-scented smoke has the dual effect of placating the bees whilst habituating them to their handlers. “This helps them see me as their friend - the usual Simon. I tell the bees: ‘Come back and bring your friends!’”
Simon Enaku, Kameme local community member, farmer and beekeeper

The project supported much-needed employment with the installation of over 100 beehives, procurement of equipment (bee-protection gear and harvesting tools), and training on beekeeping as an alternative income source.

It also provided an entryway to raise awareness and train community members on the importance of conservation, better farming practices, and sustainable natural capital.

"We have honey. We are harvesting. We are getting income. That income is coming direct to our group. The project is financially stable.”
Simon Enaku, Kameme local community member, farmer and beekeeper

20 men and 20 women from the community bordering Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park follow a 2-day training on sustainable organic farming. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

20 men and 20 women from the community bordering Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park follow a 2-day training on sustainable organic farming. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

Working together

Although the Kameme community borders the National Park, many Kameme residents had never even set foot in the park.  They only know elephants as wild animals that raid their crops, and lions as predators of their cows.

The excursion was orchestrated at sunset (this type of drive is frequently referred to as a ‘sundowner’), which is a transitional moment in the African day when the heat begins to dissipate and animals become more active, and is therefore an optimal time to see wildlife. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

But the Enjojo Wildlife Foundation is changing this.

Together with Uganda’s Wildlife Authority, they organized a game-drive (a wildlife viewing from an open-sided safari vehicle) to provide the Kameme community an opportunity to see wildlife.

The outreach was covered by the local radio station, and inspired community members to protect wildlife, their habitats, and to continue to serve as guardians of nature at the frontlines of conservation.

 "We, the members of the park, we sometimes have some challenges with the animals coming to eat our crops, but now that we have come together we can work together to find the solutions.”
Birihamutwe Johnson, local Kameme village community member, who often takes on an active leadership role - especially when it comes to mobilizing support for project activities.

The excursion was orchestrated at sunset (this type of drive is frequently referred to as a ‘sundowner’), which is a transitional moment in the African day when the heat begins to dissipate and animals become more active, and is therefore an optimal time to see wildlife. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

The excursion was orchestrated at sunset (this type of drive is frequently referred to as a ‘sundowner’), which is a transitional moment in the African day when the heat begins to dissipate and animals become more active, and is therefore an optimal time to see wildlife. Photo: Enjojo Wildlife Foundation

African Elephants in close proximity to the local village, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

African Elephants in close proximity to the local village, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Pollination for conservation

Introduced by Sir David Attenborough in 2018, The Lion's Share is an innovative solution to raising critical funding for wildlife and communities on the front lines of conservation.

Leveraging the power of the marketing world, The Lion’s Share offers brands an opportunity to make a contribution to global biodiversity conservation, creating a new stream of financing for nature.

Through UNDP, in collaboration with the GEF SGP team, grants like this one in Uganda serve as an example of the initiative's action on the ground.

Colobus guereza, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Hippos in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Photo: Ricardo Adame

Landscape of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Colobus guereza, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Hippos in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Photo: Ricardo Adame

Landscape of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Local action = global impact

This year marks the 30th anniversary of SGP, a corporate programme of the Global Environment Facility that has been implemented by UNDP since 1992.

In the past three decades, SGP has empowered local civil-society and community-based organizations, including women, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and persons with disabilities, to design and lead actions that address global environmental issues.

Lion, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Lion, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

It implements effective and efficient projects that aim to achieve global environmental benefits while improving livelihoods and reducing poverty, as well as promoting social inclusion, gender equality and empowerment of women.

In Uganda, SGP has supported 235 projects since 1998 in the areas of biodiversity, land degradation, climate change, chemicals and waste, and international waters.

For more details on SGP’s work in Uganda, visit SGP’s Uganda country page.

For information on SGP’s global portfolio, visit the global SGP website.

Story by: Kris Debref, Abu Baker S. Wandera, John Stephen Okuta, Andrea Egan, Ana Paula Canestrelli, with input and support from The Lion's Share team and SGP Uganda team.

Visual layout: Andrea Egan

Header photo: Savannah and woodland, Ishasha sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Photo: Gregoire Dubois

Location: Uganda