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Farmers in Nwoya Struggle to Protect Gardens from Stray Elephants

John Michael Acire, a farmer in Tangi Village disclosed that together with his households they have now decided to sleep in the garden and endure the colds of the nights to drive away from the elephants from further destruction on their farmlands.
Elephants at Murchison Falls Park, photo by Uganda Wildlife Authority

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Farmers in Got Apwoyo and Purongo Sub Counties in Nwoya district are spending sleepless nights in their farmlands due to the destruction of their crops by stray elephants. 

The two sub-counties lie across Murchison National Game Park which is home to hundreds of elephants and other wildlife animals.  

Over the past years the wildlife animals, especially marauding elephants have invaded the areas and destroyed thousands of garden crops especially during night hours when the farmers are not in their gardens. 

Last week, herds of elephants numbering over 35 attacked Laganji Village in Purongo Sub County and destroyed more than 200 acres of crop gardens that had matured and were ready for harvest this week.  

Among the destroyed garden crops were groundnuts, beans, maize, rice and millet which are commonly grown in the areas for both commercial and food purposes.  

John Michael Acire, a farmer in Tangi Village says that a quarter of his one-acre maize garden that was set for harvest was eaten and trumped on by the marauding elephants last week. 

Acire disclosed that together with his households they have now decided to sleep in the garden and endure the colds of the nights to drive away from the elephants from further destruction on their farmlands.  

Relating to the poor harvest and economic hardship, Acire now says he is not ready to lose the toil of himself and his family to the marauding wild animals.  

 Acire and his four members’ households always bang containers to drive away from the marauding elephants since they have no other alternatives.  

Alex Ojera, another farmer in Purongo has for the past one week equally opted to spend the nights in his garden following the devastation on his three acres of maize and groundnut garden last week.  

With his garden which is just three kilometres North West of Murchison National Game Reserve, Ojera as early as 5:00 pm carries his broken jerry can and metallic containers to bang whenever he spots elephants heading towards his garden.  

Though tedious, it is widely known that elephants are fearful and allergic to sounds and in that way they end up turning out of Ojera`s garden just like for the others.

//Cue in: ‘’ pul ma mega…  

Cue out: …ma gitye kangeta.’’//   

Eng. Translation:   

‘’The stray elephants are disturbing the neighbours and have not attacked him because he is now sleeping in his garden and it is very hard to stay awake throughout the night and elephants attack at around 5 am and people are now sleeping in their respective gardens to reap something.’’  

Alfred Otto, a farmer in Tangi Village who made an encounter with 15 herds of elephants in his garden last week says that the constant sleeping in the cold and sleepless nights is now unbecoming and causing health complications.

Bosco Ojok, the Laganji village Chairperson in Purongo Sub County said that more than 200 acres of garden crops that were ready for harvest in his area have been destroyed by the marauding elephants in his area in the last two weeks. 

//Cue in: ‘’lok pa lyeci…   

Cue out: …ryemo ne tye.’’//   

Eng. Translation:  

‘’The elephants come in a range of many from 15 to 35 in numbers and the elephants destroy readily harvested ground nuts and immature groundnuts which are currently being harvested. The community has started sleeping in their farmlands which have acted as a solution to the elephants destroying their gardens but some elephants are so fierce that they attack the farmers who run and leave their gardens and the stray elephants have destroyed over 20 acres and his own one acre of groundnuts and so many for other community members.’’  

Hanji Bashir the senior Public Relations Officer for Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) told URN that he could not comment since he was attending an official meeting.

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