KAMPALA. A three -and -half Elisha Nabugyere, a child to Ms Doreen Ayera, a Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) staff was last Friday mauled and eaten by a leopard in south western Uganda.
The incident, described by Mr Bashir Hangi, the UWA spokesperson as “very unfortunate but portrays how our lives as conservationists are always at risk’’ happened at 9 pm in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kidepo national parks have the highest population of predators such as lions, leopards and hyenas, according to UWA.
Despite the existence of such predators and the dangers they pose, some UWA staff, especially rangers, reside within parks as they protect the animals mainly from poachers and encroachment on their habitats.
Mr Hangi said the Friday incident started when a maid left the main house to the kitchen. The baby, without the knowledge of the maid followed her to the kitchen. Unfortunately, a leopard, Hangi said was hiding nearby and within a blink of an eye, the predator mauled baby Elisha amid an alarm from the toddler and took him to the bush.
The late Nabugyere’s last alarm caught the attention of the maid who tried to follow the killer leopard but it was too late. The maid alerted the rangers who mounted a rescue mission through the night but in vain.
“The rangers immediately swung into action, searched for the baby but they found only a skull in the morning under a tree,” Mr Hangi said.
Mr Hangi said they are pursuing the leopard with the intention of capturing and removing it from the wild since it has tasted human blood and might want to taste it again.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the top tourists destinations in the country and ensuring the safety of both rangers and tourists is a priority, Mr Hangi said.
Of recent, there have been many incidences of wildlife–human conflicts. About two weeks ago, a pride of 11 lions was allegedly poisoned by pastoralists.
In 2007, 13 lions were poisoned and in 2010, 8 lions were killed all incidents pointing to pastoralists.