The suspects are Isa Kabalye, Fredrick Mashate all residents of Kampala, Robin Ongu, Jimmy Awio, and Felix Amuku, all residents of Olilim Sub County in Otuke district.
They were arrested during the joint operation conducted by the are leaders in conjunction with local residents against those cutting shear Nut trees for charcoal burning.
Otuke RDC Robert Abak during the recent operation to protect and preserve Shear Nut trees in the area
Police in Otuke District is holding five people suspected to be behind the mass destruction of Shear Nut trees for charcoal burning.
The suspects are; Isa Kabalye, Fredrick Mashate all residents of Kampala, Robin Ongu, Jimmy Awio, and Felix Amuku, all residents of Olilim Sub County in Otuke district. The five were arrested during a joint operation conducted by leaders in Otuke in conjunction with local residents against those cutting shear Nut trees for charcoal burning.
Robert Abak, the Resident District Commissioner said the suspects were arrested by the community and handed over to police on Friday.
Abak says due to few environmental police in Otuke District, they have resorted to sensitizing the community to arrest and hand to police anybody found destroying shear nut trees for charcoal.
Francis Otyama, the Olilim Sub County LCIII Chairperson said the suspects invaded about 40 acres of land full of Shear Nut trees and started cutting them down for charcoal burning.
Otyama said many traders from Kampala, Mbale and Busia districts are now conniving with some local residents to destroy Shear Nut trees for charcoal making since it attracts more market.
Patrick Onyanga, the Otuke District forestry officer cautioned residents against tree cutting and urged them to engage in environmentally friendly activities. He says shear Nut trees which are the majority tree species in the area and has since been declared an endangered species.
Recently National Environmental Management Authority in conjunction with National Forestry Authority planted about 15,000 Shear Nut seedlings under a pilot project to restore the trees at Oliduru Central Forest Reserve in Otuke district.
The Shea Nut tree is a species with several benefits including medicinal values known to treat many ailments, the fruits are very nutritious and can be eaten; oil can be processed for cosmetic attributes and to be added as an ingredient to food.
It is a slow maturing tree that takes about 20 years to bear fruit and can live for 300 years. Currently, a litre of locally processed Shea oil costs 10,000 shillings, while machine processed Shea Nut Oil costs 20,000 per litre.