Batwa community experience is as an activity done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Buhoma side located in the Northern Sector of the Park. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in South Western Uganda and has two sectors and that is the Southern and the Northern Sector.
Bwindi Forest is composed of a fantastic biodiversity of flora and fauna, including unique weather and other endangered species. The forest was also home to the (Batwa) pygmies indigenous people who originated from the forest hence known ‘keepers of the forest’.
In 1992, the forest became a national park and world heritage site in order to protect the endangered mountain gorillas that reside within its boundaries. Therefore, pygmies were evicted from the park and became conservation refugees in a world that was very unfamiliar to them. Their skills and means of subsistence were not useful in this modern environment and they began to suffer.
The experience starts from Batwa Craft shop and office located in Buhoma trading center few meters from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park gate. It’s from there that your guide will you to the starting point and then back after the activity.
When the Batwa tribe was on the edge of extinction American medical missionaries, Dr Scott and Carol Kellermanns came to their rescue. They purchased land and established programs to improve the conditions and lives of the Batwa. This included the building of a school, hospital and housing. The Kellermanns also developed water and sanitation projects and found ways that the Batwa could generate income and sustain themselves.
These projects are now managed and operated by the Batwa Development Program (BDP). BDP works closely with the Batwa community to try to ensure that their indigenous rights are respected and they also benefit from the forest being a national park and tourist attraction.
While at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, The batwa experience is one of the activities, excursion you should endeavour to participate in. For several years before Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazzatted as a National park, this forest was home to the Batwa Pygmies who were referred as the orginal dwellers and keepers of this tropical rain forest. After Bwindi Forest was gazzatted as a national Park in 1993, the Pygmies were relocated from the forest to the nearby villages and towns.
For a long time, the Batwa pygmies depended on forest resources for survival. They used to hunt forest animals using spears and allows for meat and gathering plants and fruits for food. They could harness honey and depend on shrubs for medicine. They constructed huts using trees, leaves and climbing plants from the forest. In otherward one can conclusively say that the Batwa Pygmies lived in harmony with the forest, and animals like mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants, birds among others.
When Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was gazzatted and declared a world heritage, the Batwa were expelled from the forest and their life changed there and then leaving their lives endangered since they had no land outside the forest and were not used the life outside the forest.