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Book details
  • Genre:NATURE
  • SubGenre:Endangered Species
  • Language:English
  • Pages:76
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781543970371

Stories of the Batwa Pygmies of Buhoma, Uganda

Mountain Gorilla Protection and Ecotourism Ended the Traditional Lives of Ancient Forest-Dwelling Hunter/Gatherers

by Tony Schwartz , Musinguzi Amos and Scott Kellermann View author's profile page

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Overview

Attempts to protect endangered animal species often have negatively impacted powerless indigenous people living traditional lifestyles. This photo-essay illustrates one such example: How the laudable effort to protect "Critically Endangered" mountain gorillas (and income-producing ecotourism) has affected the Batwa Pygmies of southwest Uganda, in East Africa. The Batwa are one of the most ancient races on earth, who for millennia had lived alongside the mountain gorillas in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The Ugandan government forcibly evicted the Batwa in 1992, when the forest was designated a World Heritage Site and was renamed the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The government has never assisted the Batwa with compensation, means of supporting themselves, or housing. In December 2017, photographer Tony Schwartz interviewed nine Batwa. Photographs were acquired during the interviews, and demonstrations by the Batwa of how they previously had existed in the forest. They gave personal accounts of their former way of life, told a story derived from their ancient and rich oral history, and related the devastating and deadly effects the eviction has had on their lives and culture. We have reported these individual stories, experiences and perceptions, as it is our belief that the fabric of a people is comprised of individual threads. This book documents two opposing impacts of an effort to protect endangered wildlife. On the one hand, the population of mountain gorillas has increased associated with their protection. On the other hand, this has come at great expense to the Batwa Pygmies.

NOTE: All royalties from sales of this book are donated to the Kellermann Foundation, for the benefit of the Batwa Pygmies

Description
Attempts to protect endangered animal species often have negatively impacted powerless indigenous people living traditional lifestyles. This photo-essay illustrates one such example: How the laudable effort to protect "Critically Endangered" mountain gorillas (and income-producing ecotourism) has affected the Batwa Pygmies of southwest Uganda, in East Africa. Until very recently, mountain gorillas were listed as "Critically Endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of nature (IUCN). Because of efforts at conservation, associated with income from ecotourism, the number rose to 680 in 2008, and by September 2016, to 880. In November 2018, the IUCN estimated that there were over 1,000 gorillas in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, and so they changed the classification of mountain gorillas from Critically Endangered to Endangered. The other subspecies of the eastern gorilla, Grauer's gorilla, is still listed as Critically Endangered, as are both subspecies of western gorilla (cross river and western lowland gorillas). The small-statured, hunter/gatherer Twa have lived for millennia in the forests of central Africa. The Twa of Uganda are known as Batwa Pygmies. There is evidence that the Batwa are one of the oldest races on earth. They are monotheistic, have a creation story predating Judaism that closely resembles the Garden of Eden story, and a language that may have influenced Indo-European languages (Hallet & Pelle, 1973). The population of Twa living in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, has been estimated at 86,000 to 112,000, with approximately 6,700 Batwa residing in Uganda. Roughly 600 live in Bwindi. Despite nearly a 100% illiteracy rate among the adults, the Batwa have a rich oral tradition; many of their stories and legends having been passed down for countless generations. Since the dawn of man, the mountain gorillas and the Batwa lived alongside one another in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Uganda. In 1992, however, the Batwa were evicted from that forest, when it became a national park, and was designated as a World Heritage Site. This occurred for the stated purpose of protecting endangered mountain gorillas. It is likely, however, that the Ugandan government also sought to protect the increasingly popular, income-generating ecotourism industry. Many of the Batwa now live in Buhoma, a village in which one of the park entrances is located. The Ugandan government has provided the Batwa with no reparation, jobs, or housing assistance. Nor have the Batwa shared in any income associated with ecotourism. In the year 2000, co-author Dr. Scott Kellermann found that 8 years after the eviction, 38% of the Batwa children died before their 5th birthday, translating to a life expectancy of only 28 years. Their annual mean income was $25. Despite improvements in their condition since then, they remain classified as "ultra-poor," i.e., they live on less than $0.80 per day. In December 2017, photographer Tony Schwartz interviewed nine Batwa. Photographs were acquired during the interviews, and demonstrations by the Batwa of how they previously had existed in the forest. They gave personal accounts of their former way of life, told a story derived from their ancient and rich oral history, and related the devastating and deadly effects the eviction has had on their lives and culture. We have reported these individual stories, experiences and perceptions, as it is our belief that the fabric of a people is comprised of individual threads. This book documents two opposing impacts of an effort to protect endangered wildlife. On the one hand, the population of mountain gorillas has increased associated with their protection. On the other hand, this has come at great expense to the Batwa Pygmies.
About the author

Tony Schwartz was born in New York City, New York, USA.  He resides in Boston, Massachusetts and Peru, Vermont, with his wife Claudia, who is a watercolor artist.  Their son Tom, daughter-in-law Carolynn and grandsons Zeke and Arlo live in Madison, Wisconsin, USA; their son Eric lives in Boston.

Before devoting himself fully to photography, he was an academic veterinary surgeon and immunologist.  He received a DVM degree from the New York State Veterinary College at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and a PhD in Medical Microbiology/Immunology from the Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio, where he also completed a surgical residency, later becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (DACVS). 

He has been on the faculties of the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, and, since the first class started in 1979, Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Boston and then North Grafton, Massachusetts. There, he served as Professor and Chair of the Surgery Department and as an Associate Dean until retiring in 2005, as Professor Emeritus.  He was awarded a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship in Washington, DC, in 1988-1989. 

Tony has been involved in art all his life, starting with drawing as a child, and doing oil painting and clay sculpture as an adult. Since 2003 his artistic passion has been photography, and retirement from academia allowed him to “focus” on it (https://www.tonyschwartzphoto.com), associated with photo-graphic education at the New England School of Photography in Boston (now Waltham), Massachusetts, as well as in workshops and photographic tours. 

Tony has had several solo exhibitions of his photography in the USA, and has been in many juried, curated and invited regional, national and international exhibitions. He has received awards for his photography and is a juried member of the Copley Society of Art in Boston, (at which he has earned the designation “Copley Artist”). His work is represented by the 3 Pears Gallery in Dorset, Vermont, USA.

Musinguzi Amos was born and raised, along with 14 siblings, in Buhoma Village, Uganda, near the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. His father died when he was 10 years of age, making the life of the family very difficult. Despite this, Amos completed his primary education (in the Kanyashande Primary School and the Buhoma Community Primary School) in 2003. Thereafter, he attended secondary school, and with the aid of sponsorship he completed studies at the Nyamiyaga Secondary School in 2007, and High School in the Science Class of Kigezi College Butobere (2009). He then completed a course in Comprehensive Nursing at Rakai Community Nursing School in 2012. In December 2017, he graduated with a BS degree in Nursing from the International Health Sciences University, now the Clarke International University, in Kampala, Uganda. Amos believes that he is the first person in his village to have received a BS degree. He looks forward to attaining a Master’s degree in the forthcoming years.

Scott Kellermann is a native of Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA.  He received a BS in Mathematics and Biology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and an MD degree from Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans, Louisiana.  He then interned in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Los Angeles County Hospital, California, completed a residency in family practice at the Santa Monica General Hospital, California, a year of surgical residency at the Touro Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, and finally a MS in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from Tulane University. Scott has Certification in Travel and Tropical Medicine and Board Certification in Family Practice. 

A canon in the Episcopal Church, he practiced Tropical Medicine as a medical missionary at the Shanta Bhawan Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. Subsequently, he was in private practice in Nevada City, California, where he was a founder of a medical clinic that has become the major health care provider for Nevada County. In addition, he helped start a hospital near Tijuana, Mexico. Scott was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for 2017-2018, which was spent at the Uganda Nursing School, Bwindi Community Hospital.  

In 2001, Scott and his wife Carol settled in Bwindi, Uganda as missionaries of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. There, while serving as a consultant to the Bwindi Community Hospital, Scott surveyed the health status of the Batwa, and then worked among them to deal with their medical needs. In 2004, Scott and Carol established the Kellermann Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting displaced Batwa Pygmies in all areas of development (through the BDP) and to providing high-quality healthcare to the Batwa and their neighbors in southwest Uganda.  As noted above, besides establishing the Bwindi Community Hospital, in 2013 he founded the Uganda Nursing School in Bwindi.  Scott considers that perhaps his “best accomplishment is getting people from all walks of life to collaborate on a project on the other side of the globe.”



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