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Stray elephants displace residents in Lamwo

Lamwo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Residents of Lubiri and Kadomera Central villages, Palabek Nyimur sub county in Lamwo district have fled their homes following an invasion of stray elephants.

The Nyimur sub county LCIII chairperson Moses Bili, says the elephants believed to have strayed from Nimule National Park in Magwi County of Eastern Equatorial State in South Sudan, reportedly entered Uganda through Amuru district before crossing river Achwa into Palabek Nyimur sub county.

The elephants according to residents believed to be twenty in number invaded Kadomera parish on Sunday and destroyed numerous huts and ravaged numerous acres of crops in the Lubiri and Kadomera villages in Nyimur sub county.

Kadomera Central village LCI chairperson Walter Lam says residents mainly farming communities have lost over 50 gardens of millet, simsim, maize, potato and sorghum crops to the elephants which have threatened their only livelihoods.

Lam says that despite no fatalities or injuries having been registered yet, most residents have since abandoned their homes and sought refuge in the neighbouring villages of Padwat and Lugwar in Padwat parish, and Kadomera South in Kadomera parish.

Christopher Opwonya, one of the affected farmers in Lubiri village says he lost two acres of sorghum that were devoured and over nine acres of sim sim crops that were destroyed by the stray elephants.

The Palabek Ogilli sub county LCIII chairperson Christopher Omal says they want the government and Uganda Wildlife Authorities-UWA to intervene in saving people from further destruction.

Omal says the invasion, the first time in decades, has observed elephants from South Sudan cross into settlements occupied mainly by farming communities in parts of the wilderness of Tim Padwat Hunting ground which could have been a migration route for these elephants.

The Kidepo Valley National Park Community Conservation Officer Joseph Okello, says that human and wildlife conflicts always become inevitable when the areas presumed to be wildlife habitats and conservation areas are overlapped by human settlement and activities.

Okello however says their counterparts of the Nimule National Park have been notified about the invasions and a team of wildlife rangers have been deployed in the area to devise ways of driving the animals away from the area.

Okello also stressed the need by the local community members to co-exist with the wild animals by not harming them since it’s against the law but should rather explore local means of setting up fires, spraying chilli-pepper and planting beehives next to their gardens.

The Lamwo Resident District Commissioner James Nabinson Kidega says although initial reports are still scanty on the number of gardens destroyed by the elephants, a team is on the ground to assess the magnitude of destruction.

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