Our latest EPI Friend of the Month is Jadress Komugasho, of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, who plays a crucial role in managing her country’s ivory stockpile. She’s pictured in Mgahinga National Park (you can just about see a silverback gorilla behind her!)
Please tell us where in Uganda you grew up, and how you became interested in wildlife conservation?
I was born in Isingiro District, South Western Uganda. I learnt about National Parks and wild animals at school, but I could not afford to visit any. It was only after University that I had the chance to visit Lake Mburo National Park. That got me interested in conservation, and my dream came true in 2012 when I joined Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) as a private ranger. I’ve risen through the ranks and am now Assistant Warden in charge of our stockpile management system.
Uganda has many natural treasures…from the gorillas of Bwindi to the elephants of Murchison Falls..Do you have a personal favourite?
My favourite places are Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks because to see mountain gorillas is one of the most rewarding wildlife adventures. They look just like people and watching them in the jungle is a very emotional experience.
You work on the management of Uganda’s ivory stockpiles. What are the biggest challenges of this job?
The biggest challenge is the safety and security of ivory and other wildlife trophies, some of which are kept by other government agencies. UWA has put safeguards to ensure that all the ivory in the national stockpile is safe; with inventories, CCTV cameras in and around strong rooms, and an electronic database.
Do you ever get to spend time out in the bush? Or are you always very office-based in Kampala
Although much of my work is office-based, I have been conducting both overt and covert operations within and outside Kampala in an effort to fight escalating wildlife trafficking in Uganda.
Ugandan wildlife has had its ups and down....the destruction of the 1970s and 80s, and recovery since. Are you optimistic today about the future of elephants in Uganda?
I am very optimistic because the population of elephants in Uganda is increasing and this is the result of effective protection in the National Parks by UWA and the support of conservation partners in combatting trafficking. We’ve established Intelligence and Investigations Units, equipping law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools.