Oil Exploration Among Wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda
27 June 2014
In this compelling photo series, AFIEGO documents the presence and impact of oil workers in Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, a protected area home to a vast array of wildlife. The discovery of oil in Uganda has occurred and continues to develop within the richly biodiverse and fragile ecosystem of the Albertine Graben. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Graben hosts 14% of all African amphibians and 52% of all African birds. It also hosts 35% of all African butterflies, 39% of all African mammals, and comprises 70% of Uganda’s protected areas. It is an invaluable resource for the country and region.
As Uganda shifts from oil exploration to oil production, these animals will suffer. The process of laying pipelines is expected to be traumatic for the animals due to stressful levels of noise and vibration. There is already evidence of elephants roaming into villages outside of the park boundaries, reportedly fleeing noisy oil activities in their natural habitat. However, the Uganda Wildlife Authority remains hesitant to admit that animals are being scared away by the presence of humans in the park.
The national park’s terrain is characterized by a rift valley with a rolling landscape interspaced with swamps, rivers, and underground streams, or aquifers, that ultimately drain into Lake Albert. Lake Albert, at the heart of the region, is a truly international body of water: it is fed from rivers in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and drains into the White Nile, which flows into South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt.
If an oil spill were to occur in such an environment, it would not only affect the soil, air, rivers, wetlands, lake, wildlife, and human communities of Uganda, but would have a far-reaching impact that could transcend international boundaries and spark cross-border conflicts.
Click through the photo slide show below to see Uganda’s stunning wildlife and the oil exploration taking place in its most valuable protected areas.