Nwoya, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Furious women in Lii sub county, Nwoya district stripped before the State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Martin Magara Bahinduka on Wednesday in protest against the rampant invasion of elephants.
The minister was in the district to interact with the communities of Got-Apwoyo, Purongo, and Lii sub counties whose livelihoods have been affected by the marauding elephants from the Murchison Falls National Park.
The residents accused Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA, which is mandated to manage and supervise wildlife activities within and outside the protected areas of failing to control the elephants.
Statistics compiled by the Disaster Management Committee indicate that 3,014 acres of crops have been destroyed by the wild animals this year.
James Opiro, 59, a resident of Got-Onyang village in Lii sub county, who wept uncontrollably with deep emotions told URN that the wild beasts grazed and walked on his 4 acres of soybeans, 2 acres of cassava, several acres of simsim and peas.
Bonnet Odoki, a resident of Gotonyang A, Lutuk Parish in Koch Lii sub county, said that a roving elephant destroyed his grass-thatched house leaving his family of 12 people homeless.
The angry residents also walked with the Minister on foot in Gonycogo village for over 2kilometers to show him the trenches dug by UWA to prevent the elephants from crossing into the community gardens in vain.
Justine Odong, the Lii sub county LC3 chairperson paraded individuals who were attacked by the elephants and have never been compensated despite sustaining life-threatening injuries. In his statement translated by Geoffrey Opiyo, the Anaka sub county LCV councilor, Odong disclosed that up to 15 residents have been killed by the elephants in the past 12 months and 787 acres of crops destroyed.
It took the intervention of the District Woman MP, Judith Peace Achan to convince the mothers to abandon the nude protest and show respect to the minister as they engage him to find a lasting solution to the human-wildlife conflict.
Bahinduka who was accompanied by UWA officials called for patience from the affected community as the ministry devises a lasting solution to end the wildlife disturbances on the communities neighboring the game park.
The minister disclosed that they have earmarked Shillings 779 million under the revenue sharing arrangement to benefit the parishes bordering the park. He explained that 95 percent of the money will be directly injected into projects that benefit the affected community while 5 percent will be for monitoring.
Bahinduka also regretted that the trenches that were dug by UWA along the park boundary to prevent the elephants from encroaching into human settlements have not helped and have resulted in a waste of public resources.
The UWA has resumed the installation of electric fences along the 110 kilometers of the demarcated park borderline in Nwoya and neighboring Oyam districts to mitigate the human-wildlife conflicts.