By OKELLO ALLAN
KITGUM, Uganda-SHIFTMEDIA– The woes for Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) seems far from over.
A day after the Executive Director Sam Mwandah was quizzed in Parliament over the fire that gutted Park View Lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park, residents in Kitgum are crying foul over marauding elephants.
UWA however denied allegations that their rangers started the bush fire that burnt 15 cottages belonding to Hon. Kateshumbwa the Sheema legislator to ashes.
The elephants from Kidepo Valley National park has caused untold suffering to the locals neighboring the park.
Residents during a community meeting vowed to revenge by killing the animals if UWA doesn’t up their game.
Kitgum RDC William Komakech didn’t have kind words for UWA.
He blasted them for not being cooperative especially regarding safeguarding the communities from the marauding animals. Komakech who represents the President in Kitgum said he had filed a report to H.E the president regarding UWA’s non-performance and arrogance.
Julius Olwa a resident said the elephants have in the last few days destroyed 1000 acres of crops affecting over 700 households.
“I am not happy with UWA. We sat and agreed that the joint committee of UPDF, Police, Anti-Stock Unit and UWA rangers design mechanisms of preventing the elephants from invading communities, they didn’t cooperate,” said Komakech.
Betty Atim a resident said she had lost over 7 acres of maize and 5 acres of groundnuts to the elephants that escaped from the park.
The Kitgum legislator Hon. Margaret Odwar Lamwaka urged UWA to immediately compensate the affected locals. “This is not the first time elephants are invading and destroying peoples crops. These households are now in dire need for food since their crops have been destroyed,” she said.
“They must be compensated and solutions to these animals found.
She said they had suggested that UWA erects an electric fence like it did it Queen Elizabeth National Park or dig deep holes, but this wasn’t done by UWA.
President Museveni warns UWA
In 2017 while meeting farmers in Nwoya district, President Museveni warned Uganda Wildlife Authority against stray animals. Dr. Andrew Segguya was the then Executive Director.
President Museveni warned Andrew Segguya over his failure to address wildlife invasion into community farmlands.
Museveni said despite continuous reminder to Segguya to have the problems addressed, he [Segguya] and his team have instead been ‘sleeping’.
Reports published by The Daily Monitor quoted Museveni saying:
“The director of UWA needs some kiboko [canes], we have been talking about the issues of wild animals invading people’s gardens for about 10-15 years now, but nothing has been done to address the problem,” he said.
This was the case in Nwoya after stray elephants stray from Murchison Falls National park invaded the community land and caused untold damage to crops in the communities.
The same is now happening in Kitgum district.
We have now established from top State House sources that UWA management may soon have to pay the price for what the president described as “negligence”.
President Museveni proposed the erecting of electric fences to prevent stray wildlife from crossing from the parks into people’s farm lands.