Aputon Community

The Benet Ndorobos people who are the indigenous inhabitants of some parts of Mt. Elgon forest have from time immemorial been occupants of Elgon Mountain. The land struggle started in 1936 when the British colonial government gazetted all the Mt. Elgon forest into a crown forest without free prior and informed consent of the inhabitants. At the time the Benet community occupied the four parishes of Yatui, Kupiswa, Benet, and Kwoti relatively small number whose basic livelihood rotated

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around pastoralism, fruit-gathering, hunting and honey-harvesting.

The paradigm shift was at course till 1983 where the Benet communities were officially allocated land covering the jurisdiction from Kere River to Kaptakwoi River stretching from the 1936-line north of the cliff line which was reopened in 2017 leaving Yatui parish at Kisito temporary settlement camp in to the park area. In 1993, the status of Mount Elgon forest changed from a forest reserve to a National Park which brought in to disarray all the efforts that had been made to resettle all the Benets in their land they claim to their ancestral land and since then, there has been a harsh contest for land between the Benet community and Uganda Wildlife Authority the government agency responsible for conservation. In 2002, the parliament of Uganda passed a resolution allowing the adjustment of the National Park boundaries to allow the resettlement of the Benet community. This resolution however catered for just a small section of Benetsas Yatui, and Kapsekek that were left landless and vulnerable to evictions perpetuated by Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The Benet communities have now resorted to peaceful resistance, holding demonstrations, occupations, tree planting alongside other actions to fight for their land. They have earned them some victories during their struggle but continue to face a lot of opposition from these perpetrators. The UWA was ordered to return 800 acres of the land back to the people but they refused to vacate the premises. The land rights defenders caught the attention of the district leaders and officials who then signed a Memorandum of Understanding with all parties to stop UWA from inflicting human rights violations on the community and capturing their cattle as well as charging them fines, but the locals have faced the same problem over time.