The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has refuted reports that it has been involved in extrajudicial killings of members of communities living near national game parks.
This follows media reports that seven civilians were shot dead in August by game rangers in Murchison Falls National Park. The reports indicated that the civilians killed were not armed.
UWA executive director Dr Andrew Seguya told a media briefing at the UWA headquarters in Kamwokya on Tuesday that the most recent incident actually involved a group of five civilians, who he said were armed and suspected to be poachers.
He explained that in the latest incident rangers shot two of five suspects, during an exchange of gunfire. He said the matter was reported and is being handled by Buliisa police in Masindi district.
“Two of the men later identified as Baguma Samuel and Alex Bagyira were shot. Three other persons escaped but a rifle number ug 24581999 with six rounds of ammunition was recovered and tendered at police,” he said.
“It is therefore false to claim that no hunting gear was found on the bodies. They were not executed because that is extrajudicial. These people were killed in an exchange of fire,” said Seguya.
Seguya also revealed that UWA rangers have been under attack from poachers, saying the incidents have resulted into the death of up to 50 of them in the past 10 years.
Dr Seguya noted that the public needs to support efforts by UWA to protect animals which are a key component of the Ugandan tourism industry.
“Many of our rangers have been killed, they have been injured and others maimed. The public needs to know that we are only care takers. These things belong to you and you own the resources,” he said.
“These people are stealing from you. We have lost over 50 rangers who are only doing their duty. These people have families,”said Sseguya.