I am passionate about wildlife conservation, in large part, because of the place where I come from. I was born and raised inside Queen Elizabeth National Park in South West Uganda. Growing up inside the national park taught me the value of wildlife conservation and the types of conflict that can develop from human-wildlife interaction. There was perhaps no more valuable lesson in these principles than that which my father exposed me to when I was a young girl. My father was a conservationist ahead of his time. He worked as a small-scale agro-pastoralist and kept (as we still do today) a good size herd of cattle. One day when I was just a little girl, my father came home with a Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) calf. As the story goes, my father was walking home when he heard the miserable cry of this young calf. The animal’s mother had been poached and my father couldn’t bear to see the young animal suffer. So he rescued the calf and brought it home to be raised among our cattle. The calf grew up thinking that it was a cow, but when it matured, it began to wander. I was devastated when news came that someone had poached our semi-tame buffalo.
After receiving the news that I would be hired as a research assistant by RECaP I travelled home to my village (KatweKabatoro) to celebrate the news of my research assistantship with my mother. I travelled by bus from Kampala to Kasese town, which took me 7 hours. Then from Kasese town to Katwe Trading Centre, which took me a further 45 minutes, and then I was home. My mother, along with my siblings, still manage the cattle herd that my father started. A new batch of calves had just been born, one of my favorite times of year. My excitement turned into sorrow however, when my mum told me that one of the calves was knocked over by a speeding vehicle as it was resting close to the road which severed his left hind leg at the knee (just like Butcherman). Despite this tragedy, my family was devoted to nursing this little male back to health. Cows graze 5 to 7 kilometres away from home on communal land each day. To maintain their schedule they must set off to graze by 8am. And the cows don’t get back home until 7pm. My mother has decided to keep him close to home and buys him banana peels, among other things, from the local restaurants so that he can survive.