Hungry Karimojong hunt wild animals for meal

A  boy grazes cattle in Pian-Upe Game Park at the weekend. PHOTO / PHOEBE MASONGOLE

What you need to know:

  • UWA officials say at least seven animals are killed on a daily basis, but the number keeps rising due to the biting hunger crisis the sub-region is experiencing.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and locals living near Pian-Upe Game Park in Karamoja Sub-region have clashed over the rampant killing of animals for food.

UWA officials say at least seven animals are killed on a daily basis, but the number keeps rising due to the biting hunger crisis the sub-region is experiencing.

According to local leaders, more than 900 Karimojongs, mainly children and elderly, have succumbed to hunger-related diseases since February. This follows massive crop failure as a result of a long dry spell.

 Mr James Okware Ilukol,  the senior warden in charge of the game reserve, said there is an increase in poaching.

“There is hunger in the districts surrounding the reserve, people don’t have what to eat in their homes,” he said, adding: “There are many people coming in from West Pokot, Kenya, as pastoralists to settle around the reserve.”

He said more than 30,000 cattle enter the reserves every day to graze and take water despite the UWA restrictions.

Daily Monitor has learnt that about 50 people have been arrested and convicted of poaching. Lack of demarcated boundaries between the reserve and community is viewed as the main cause of clashes between the community and UWA.

During a UWA and community engagement meeting in Arolo Village in Kirita Sub-county at the weekend, Mr Suleman Gudoyi, the chairperson of Lomauta Village, said people have been forced to kill wildlife animals because they don’t have food.

“Locals are going to forests to look for what to eat,” he said.

Mr Gudoyi faulted the UWA management for failing to promote a good working relationship with locals in order to co-exist.

“UWA takes the community as their enemies, which is unfortunate. They think locals are a threat to the reserve,” he said.

Mr Stephen Korimaran, the district councillor and a resident of Lokales Sub-county, said the government should support locals with food and other necessities to curb the killing of wildlife.

“The government has failed to deliver more food for us as it had promised,” he said.

According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) and the government of Uganda statistics, eight in every 10 households in Karamoja are either critically food-insecure or simply food-insecure.

Mr Peter Kiprotich, the vice chairperson of Pian-Upe Wildlife Community Association, said they are sensitising the locals on the dangers of killing wildlife animals.

“We are going to be very strict with those engaging in the killing of wildlife animals because it is illegal and affects tourism,” he said.

Mr James Kizza, the operations manager for Karamonja Safaris, said the vice should be stopped as soon as possible.

“Locals have become wild, crossing boundaries to the reserved areas and stealing specialised cameras meant for monitoring wildlife animals,” he said.

Mr Peter Leneiropos, the councillor of Karita Town Council, said UWA should ensure wildlife animals don’t escape from the game reserve, claiming they destroy people’s crops.

According to wildlife ACT 2019, it is an offense to hunt, take, kill, injure or disturb any wild animal or plant and the punishment is imprisonment of up to 10 years or payment of fine of up to Shs7 million or both.

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