January 3, 2017
The Acholi paramount chief Rwot David Onen Acana II last week declared that
he and his people will hunt and kill the elephants in the area that are
destroying acres of farmland. The chief said the destruction by the animals
has left residents hungry and without money to provide for basic needs. Of
course it is worrying to hear that.
In June 2015, the National Geographic published a piece on their website,
titled: “Why elephants are recovering in Uganda as they decline overall”.
The story written by Brian Clark Howard said: “Elephants in Uganda have
increased by 600 per cent, to more than 5,000 individuals, from a low of
700 to 800 in the 1980s.” The information was from a survey released in May
the same year and done by Wildlife Conservation Society, the Great Elephant
Census, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
This was such a positive step in conservation of wildlife in Uganda.
This is why, as the organisation mandated to protect wild animals, UWA
needs to come up with a solution in Murchison Park quick. Rwot Acana in
said they have cried out to UWA to help but this has not yielded anything.
He also criticised UWA for making empty promises, stating that the
organisation had said they would dig trenches around the park.
The UWA spokesperson Mr Jossy Muhangi defended the organisation saying what
Acana intends to do is illegal. He is right. However, Muhangi also said
that they are aware of the roaming elephants in those areas but dug
trenches at hot spots because the park is too wide.
Mr Muhangi seems to insinuate that the Acholi people should deal with the
problem themselves since the park is too wide to be managed by UWA. He also
said that UWA has conservation outposts and that the affected people should
engage them instead of killing the elephants. However, the chief has said
they have spoken to UWA without much help coming their way.
When man and his livelihood are threatened, he will look for all ways to
remove the threat. If that threat is an animal, he will try and kill it.
This is why UWA needs to get another game plan. They need to first
understand how much the people in the north have lost because of the
straying elephants. Then they need to come up with better solutions. After
all, this is not the first time that such complaints have come through.
On October 16, 2016, Daily Monitor in a story titled: “Farmers ask
President Museveni to rescue them from stray animals”, it was reported that
Kasese residents asked President Museveni to rescue them from stray
elephants that have continuously destroyed their crops. UWA must,
therefore, urgently seek solutions.