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Elephants, buffaloes spark compensation demands in Karenga

Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Maize growers in Kawalakol, Kapedo and Sangar Sub Counties in Karenga district are counting loses after herd of buffalos and another of elephants raided their gardens, destroying an estimated 180 acres of the crop in the past few days.

The wildlife from the Kidepo Valley National Park strayed Wednesday and Thursday nights destroying the maize that was just ready for harvest. The destruction comes at a time when the region is struggling to cope with a threat of hunger and food insecurity where green belts such as Karenga, Kaabong, and parts of Kotido Nakapiripirit among other food basket of the region are also thrown into food loses due to prolonged drought and problem animals.

The angry farmers petitioned the district leadership on Thursday evoking discussions of compensations for property destroyed by wildlife which was shelved by the 10th parliament  for some years.

Gabriel Akudo Samali, the councilor for Kapedo Sub county says that up to 72 households were affected by the stray wildlife and their food  which was due for harvest is now gone.

He argues that the compensation law for property destroyed by the wildlife outside the parks should be expedited as communities living near parks are disadvantaged each season when they lose crops to problem animals.

Salima believes it is unfair for the parliament to ignore a number of issues that affect the community in terms of law enactment for community interest.

Margaret Narem Kapedo Sub County Town Council of Sangar Sub County Sub county also wants government to play its role of protecting people and their property.

He says that as local leaders they cannot entertain a policy which does not favor the people at the expense of problem animals much as wildlife is a revenue source in the country.

“The law on the soil says government will protect people and their property., it’s not acceptable to see wildlife eat up crops while the affected person will not be compensated,” Kapedo said in an interview with Uganda Radio Network. ” We have the game rangers and their work is to keep this wildlife. Why does it destroys the only crop a family should live on? We are a hunger stricken area and nothing devastates more than an elephant to eat up you garden before you harvest.  as a local leader I recommend that the OPM should intervene and support these households as we wait for parliament to pass laws that protect farmers from problem animals.”

The Karenga district chairperson Mark Felix Lochaale agrees that people should be compensated but government should first come with a policy.

“My people are losing crops to wild animals every year. We have always advocated for a compensation policy and we are hoping that government considers this a priority and  passes such a law,” said Lochaale.

Ben Koriang Baatom, Dodoth West MP is hopeful that parliament will conclude the remaining business when it resumes in the next few weeks. Currently, the parliament is in a recess owing to coronavirus pandemic.

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