Population Structure of the Cycad (Encephalartos Whitelockii) along River Mpanga, Western Uganda

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J. J. Ogwal,


Cycads are listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list of threatened plants. Cycad species Encephalartos whitelockii (P.J.H. Hurter) exist in a forest gorge along River Mpanga in western Uganda where human population is rapidly rising and land use practices are dynamically changing. This study examined the population structure of E.whitelockii specifically focusing on assessing the population structure and regeneration capacity of E.whitelockii and the relative abundance and diversity of indigenous tree species associated with E.whitelockii. Stratified random sampling was used to collect ecological data in 33 transects and 165 sample plots covering a total area of 16.5 ha. The results show that the population of E.whitlockii consisted of more juveniles than adults. The E.whitelockii was most abundant on the lower hill slopes and grew closely to Combrettum molle and Acacia hockii. In order to conserve the species it is recommended that the entire habitat of E.whitelockii should be gazetted into a protected area and on-farm conservation, propagation and ecotourism should be encouraged among the frontline communities. Further research should be conducted on the phenology and reproductive biology of E.whitelockii. The local communities should develop bye laws on land use practices aimed at protecting Cycads from seed poachers.
Keywords: Cycads, endangered species, Mpanga forest gorge, population structure, Western Uganda

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