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Ostrich population doubles in Karamoja

Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The population of ostriches in Matheniko-Bokora game reserve in Karamoja sub-region in northeastern Uganda has doubled.

Fred Kizza, warden of Matheniko-Bokora game reserve told URN on Tuesday in Moroto that the ostrich population is now over 50,000 making it the biggest of the species in the whole of Africa.

He attributed the rapid growth of ostrich population in Matheniko-Bokora game reserve to the continuous sensitization of the community against poaching and picking the ostrich eggs for sale. “I am glad to report that the ostrich population in Matheniko-Bokora game reserve has doubled and we are looking at 50,000 as of now which must be the highest ostrich population in the whole of Africa,” he said.

According to Kizza, what had earlier adversely affected the population growth for ostriches in Karamoja was bush burning at the game park by Karimojong poachers and picking of ostrich eggs for sale which he said the Uganda Wildlife Authority has been fighting with the help of other stakeholders.

He said communities have also learnt that picking ostrich eggs or killing an ostrich is a big offence that can earn someone five years in jail. “With all the intervention that we have put in place, it has created a conducive environment for the ostriches to breed very well,” he said.

Elijah Lobucel, the LC III chairperson of Lokopo sub county in Napak district said the community has learnt to love wild animals but except sometimes when they are hit by hunger. “Sometimes what drives the community to poach is hunger, but when people have food, nobody bothers to poach, but still we are doing a lot of sensitization telling the community the importance of wildlife,” he said.

John Lomongin, one of the pastoralists said every day in the evening hours between 3 pm to 4 pm, hundreds of ostriches move freely along the road that connects Moroto, Kotido and Abim without being disturbed. “There is a big number of ostriches here and they move freely, nobody disturbs them,” he said.

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