Monday November 12 2012

Poachers resort to poisoning animals in parks

By Agencies

Uganda Wildlife Authority officials are worried by the rising cases of poachers using poison to kill animals in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

A recent case of suspected poisoning was reported in Edward Flat in the Ishaka Sector, close to Lake Albert in Knungu District.

Here, two buffaloes were found dead reportedly after being poisoned.

UWA officials have described the act as a new trick by the poachers to evade UWA wardens in the park. The poachers have been using guns, which weapons cannot be used stealthily.

 The Ishasha Sector Park Warden, Mr  Echodu Edyau said  the recent poisoning incident was targeted at elephants but ended up killing buffaloes. Poachers, according to Mr Echodu target elephants for Ivory.

Mr  Echodu said UWA veterinary officers confirmed that the buffaloes were killed by poisoning.

He said even vultures that fed on the carcasses died, prompting UWA officials to bury the carcasses.

Mr Echodu, who said one person has been arrested in connection to the poisoning, warned people     living close to the park to stop such crude methods of killing animals saying that such practices are detrimental to the tourism sector.

He said during an operation to find if more animals had been poisoned, UWA wardens recovered a loaded gun that had been abandoned by poachers.

This come after two months since the September warning by Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba that poaching in Uganda’s protected areas, was on the rise.

She, however, said despite incidents of poaching, UWA’s large mammal census revealed that the number of elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park had increased from 400 in 1988 to 2,959 in 2010. The population of buffaloes, according to the minister, had also increased from 5,000 to 14,858 and hippos from 2,200 to 5,024 in the same period.

Earlier in the same month, authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo accused the UPDF of poaching elephants in Garamba National Park, a claim the army denied. 

Uganda is in the Congo as part of the African Union force hunting rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army.