Daily Monitor (Uganda)
Farmers in Kasese District, western Uganda are counting losses after a herd of stray elephants destroyed their maize, banana and sunflower plantations.
The elephants are believed to have escaped from the nearby Queen Elizabeth National Park on Tuesday and Thursday and raided the villages of Rwehingo, Bugemu and Katholhu, Nyakiyumbu Sub County in Kasese District.
Residents from the affected areas close to the national park said they have been left helpless as hunger looms.
Several complaints have reportedly been made to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) which is yet to respond to their grievances.
Mr Peter Kakule, the Sub County chairperson confirmed the invasion of the wild beasts and accused UWA failing to keep the animals from escaping the sanctuary.
“It is a huge loss and my area is going to be struck with severe famine, since the affected villages are where most of the food in grown,” Mr Kakule said.
According to Kakule, farmers whose maize fields have not yet been destroyed have been directed to harvest them prematurely as precaution.
Cotton and maize farmers along Kasese-Bwera Highway are always seen in the evening sitting around fire places to scare away the elephants from sneaking into their gardens.
Mr Augustine Muserero, a farmer in Katholhu village located a few meters from Bwera town said on Friday that his two acres of banana plantations were destroyed on Christmas Day.
“For the past six months, we have been harvesting and earning Shs250, 000 per week. We cannot harvest anything as of now,” Mr Muserero said.
Mr Muserero is not alone as other famers like Matiya Kapota, James Kule, William Kule, Baanti Kaliba have also reported the damage caused by the wild beasts.
Kapota said that all his five acres of cotton were destroyed as the elephants looked for maize.
“I am now waiting for the festive season to end so that I slash the maize prematurely if I am to harvest some kilogrammes of cotton from my mixed farm,” he said.
When contacted, Mr Edward Asalu the manager Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area said they had deployed rangers to drive the elephants back to the sanctuary.
“We have deployed our rangers to work with the community members to drive the elephants back to the park,” he said, leaving the farmers with no long term solution.
This is the second time the invasion has happened in less than four months this year.
In September, 16 elephants invaded farms, destroyed crops in areas of Kilembe cell in Kasese Municipality and Kisinga Sub County.