Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
elephant tusks, rhinoceros horn, nuclear testing, endangered animal species, overgrazing
Civil unrest in Uganda during the 1970s and 1980s resulted in poor land conservation practices and rampant poaching. Since the mid-1980s, as the political situation has improved, poaching has been curbed. Soil erosion, overgrazing, and desertification continue, however, as the country’s growing population attempts to subsist mostly through agriculture and farming. In order to provide more land for agricultural use, many forests have been cleared and wetlands have been drained. Of Uganda’s forestland, 0.9 percent (1990-1996) is destroyed each year, in part because 90.6 (1996) percent of the country’s energy requirements are met by burning wood. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation services is limited, and cases of cholera have increased in recent years.
Uganda is situated in an area of rich biodiversity. The country provides habitat for 992 bird species and 338 mammal species. About 9.6 percent (1997) of the country’s land is protected in parks or reserves. However, several animal species have been greatly reduced, particularly the rhinoceros, which is endangered. The greatest threat to all species is the growing need for land for farming and raising cattle. Poaching for rhinoceros horn and elephant tusks, capturing of gorillas for zoos, and shooting of antelope for food and sport, particularly by soldiers during Uganda’s wars, have also taken their toll. Uganda has ratified international agreements intended to protect biodiversity, endangered species, marine life, wetlands, and the ozone layer. The country has also signed treaties limiting nuclear testing, chemical and biological weapons, and trade involving endangered animal species.
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