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Stray elephants forcing farmers out of farmlands in Nwoya

Nwoya, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The persistent invasion and destruction by stray elephants has forced hundreds of farmers in Nwoya district out of their farmlands.

As it has been in the past seasons, elephants from Murchison Falls National Park stray into farmlands in Purongo, Koch Goma, Koch Lii, and Got Apwoyo sub counties and destroy several acres of crops.

These affected areas are situated near the Murchison Falls National Park which is home to hundreds of wildlife species including elephants.

The elephants either feast on maize, sweet potatoes, cassava, and rice or stamp on and destroy them beyond sprouting leaving farmers in losses.

The farmers say their efforts to control or drive the stray elephants away from their farmlands by banging containers, planting red pepper and chilies, tea and sim-sim have yielded no fruits.

Much as the first rainy season in the area has set in, most of the farmers are reluctant to open up their farmlands or have shifted their attention to other economic activities.

Geoffrey Opiyo, a commercial rice farmer in Got Apwoyo Sub County told URN that in the last season, he lost 20 acres of rice which were eaten up and stamped on by some of the stray elephants.

Opiyo who had injected millions of shillings into farming had expected to harvest one hundred bags of rice but only to got ten bags. He is now relaxed and unwilling to farm this season saying that all the money he had expected to make last season was not made as planned.

Another farmer, Joseph Otim alias Waimon-J says in the last season, stray elephants destroyed two acres and half of his rice crops leaving him in losses.

Waimon had expected to harvest 20-bags of rice but only got 10 bags though he was spending sleepless nights in his garden to drive away from the stray elephants. Left with no options, he has equally abandoned rice farming and now shifted to planting sunflowers and groundnuts which are less vulnerable to attacks by elephants.

Last week, two adult elephants again invaded Waimon`s half acres of mango seedlings gardens and destroyed all the sprouting trees.

John Michael Acire, another farmer in Nwoya noted that he has lost hope in farming this season after suffering recurrent damage by stray elephants. He noted that farming in those areas has become a waste of time and resources.

However, Hanji Bashir, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) says they have set in place a number of interventions to control the wildlife from straying from the parks.

They include constructing electric fences and digging holes around the parks among other advisory supports to the farming communities.

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