Bruce Martin, the proprietor of Lake Albert Safari Lodge says he lost interest in managing the East Madi game reserve because of poaching and land conflicts. East Madi game reserve is located in the disputed border area between Amuru and Adjuman districts
In 2006, Martin won a 20 year concession from Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA to manage the 900 square kilometer East Madi game reserve. He however, abandoned the concession in 2012 citing poaching and land feuds with the local communities.
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Martin says his plan was to multiply the limited amount of game animals in East Madi area to provide opportunities for regulated trophy hunting. According to Martin, most of the reserve land fell under the Madi side, which stretched from Zoka River northwards.
He says that when he visited the area in 2001 there was no evidence of human settlement or farmlands. Martin also discloses that when he was working on the concession he had numerous meetings with the Madi because the southern part of the reserve was insecure due to LRA rebel activities in the area and had no settlements.
He however, says that poachers and encroachers started settling in the reserve when they took it over. Martin says Uganda Wildlife Authority initially tried to stop the encroachers but withdrew as a result of violent clashes with local communities, leaving security entirely in their hands.
The investor says that he didn\'t consult the residents of the Apaa area because as far as he knows the area south of Zoka River, which borders Amuru and Adjumani district is off the reserve. He declined to comment on the eviction of Apaa residents by Uganda Wildlife Authority in 2012.
He also explains that he was not involved in the evictions. Martin says that the number of game animals in Lake Albert has grown tremendously since they started working there but warned that the growing human population is a threat. â€œAs the population increase, the wildlife will suffer if government isn\'t prepared to protect the gazettes area,â€ he says.
According to Martin, it is unfortunate that the project in East Madi game reserve didn\'t succeed because it neither benefits wildlife nor the residents. The conflict in Apaa originated in 2006 when residents returned from Internally Displaced People's camps after the 20 year old LRA insurgency.
Some of the residents opened up settlements in the game reserve prompting UWA to evict them in 2012. One person was killed during the evictions and hundreds injured. Recently, government forcefully demarcated the Amuru-Adjumani border area to end land feuds in the area.
Major General Julius, who represented Government recently in a meeting with Apaa residents, says the Amuru and Adjumani district councils passed a resolution in the early 2000s, which placed East Madi game reserve on Adjumani side.
Pamela Akunda, the Internal Affairs Ministry spokesperson recently told URN that the recent boundary demarcation has nothing to do with investors.