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Kitgum leaders express concern over persistent elephant invasion

Kitgum, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Leaders in Kitgum district are concerned about the constant elephant invasion.

The leaders note that the stray elephants from Kidepo Valley National Park are affecting farming mainly in the sub-counties of Orom, Omiya Anyima, Namokora, and Kiteny sub-counties.

Christopher Obol Arwai, the LCV chairperson Kitgum, said the elephants have been destroying crop gardens for the last two years, greatly affecting farming, which is the main economic activity of more than 90 percent of the population in the district.

Arwai said over the last month, the stray elephants have destroyed more than 180 acres of crop gardens in Namokora and Omiya Anyima sub-counties only.

Geoffrey Opyet, the LCIII chairperson of Namokora sub-county, said in the past three weeks, the stray elephants estimated at 20 have ravaged acres of crops, especially in the villages of Guda, Agot Agot, in Pugoda East.

Opyet said the last assessment done on September 17th, indicated that 150 acres of crops have been destroyed by elephants this year. He says that to date, the destruction could have already reached 200 acres.

Jimmy Segawa Ebil, the RDC Kitgum, noted that the district officials have talked to officials at Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA and have set a point where scouts can easily respond in case of a call by locals, but the scouts are not responding.

Christine Oyella, a resident of Kiteny sub-county, noted that victims of the elephant invasion should be given due compensation for crops destroyed.

Oyella revealed that the elephants destroyed two acres of her crops, including simsim that she had already stacked to dry in the garden.

According to Oyella, some farmers are now harvesting millet before they are ready, to prevent them from destruction by elephants.

Oyella cited that the last food aid given to the victims in the first week of November, many were left more bitter because they incurred transport costs to get food relief from the Office of the Prime Minister, only to be given half a kilogram of posho and half a kilogram of beans.

During a meeting with MPs on Wednesday, the locals noted that the constant destruction of crops by elephants is another form of insecurity that they are battling with and they should be compensated for the losses they have been making.

William Museveni, the Buwekula South MP who led the delegation to Orom sub-county promised leaders and locals that they would work together with MPs in Acholi to push for the compensation of people who have lost crops to straying elephants.

Museveni said they are already pushing for the fencing of the park so that the incidences of human-wildlife conflict are reduced.

Martin Oryem, the Assistant Warden for Community Conservation in Kidepo Valley Conservation Area said UWA has taken records of people whose gardens have been destroyed by the stray elephants for compensation.

Oryem however condemned the habit by locals who register for compensation even when their crops have not been destroyed.

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