Poachers’ den turns wildlife haven: The Story of Ajai

Country/area: Uganda

Organisation: West Nile Today

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2 Sep 2020

Credit: Richard Drasimaku

Project description:

A multimedia solutions journalism project incorporating text, photographs, geomap and inforgraphics. It explains in detail how the Uganda Wildlife Authority was able to team with the local community to fight poaching when it engaged them and introduced appiary as an income generating activity, uses data on the increasing number of wildlife coincided with reduction in illegal activities to show evidence of result, discusses the limitations to appiary as a solution including destruction of beehives by the wildlife themselves and poor colonisation due to harsh environment, offers insights on ways to minimise some of the challenges and justifies why this strategy

Impact reached:

This project earned me an invitation from World Wide Fund for Nature- Kenya to participate in the East African Community exchange conference for journalists reporting on illegal wildlife trade. It drove new readers to the West Nile Today website that was only clocking ten months last September where readership per article had hardly exceede 500 clicks. It sparked renewed public debate on local radios and in social media about the need to establish better facilities to  reap from the untapped tourism potential of Ajai wildlife reserve.

Techniques/technologies used:

Flourish Studio data tools were used to create an interractive visualisation the link of which was shared in the article under the infographic subheading while the graph was also uploaded as a photoshot for the benefit of readers who do not have much time to spend on interracting with the visualisation. Google documents were especially useful in the drafting and presentation of the article. While Web Harvy allowed the extraction of the data after its uploading on Source Africa back into the story for citation.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Finding the required data on the changing trend of animal population in Ajai wildlife reserve was the most challenging part of the project. This was particularly so due to the poor data ecosystem in West Nile and Uganda where most information is kept in printed form in the office shelves and where bureaucratic impedments complicate accessibility to public documents. These had to be made available online for scraping and citation through the Source Africa open data portal.

What can others learn from this project?

It is possible to create interesting stories out of less popular and often neglected topics such as wildlife conservation in remote areas with a solutions focus. This can inturn influnce the policy discourse or offer lessons that can be replicated elsewhere. It is also possible to track and find data that can support news reporting with scientific evidence especially if the data is presented and analysed in simple and understandable format. Journalists also learn that geojournalism and data journalism expand the scope of innovative storytelling. And finnally this project underscores the importance of mentorship in advancing the skill set of journalists, a role played by the Code for Africa and InfoNile to bring this project to fruition.

Project links: