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Persistent Elephant Invasion in Kitgum Sours UWA, Residents Relations

More than 200 acres of maize, groundnuts, finger millets, soya beans, sunflower, and potato gardens have already been destroyed by the wild animals in the villages of Lotor, Wipol, Akadojwat, Lamingonen, Umgot, Tikao, and Toboi in Gule Parish.
Farmers in Tikao village in Orom Subcounty in Kitgum District show some of the maize crops that were destroyed by stray elephants from Kidepo Valley National Park.

Audio 9

Farmers in Orom Sub County in Kitgum District are angry with the slow response from Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers at Kidepo Valley National Park to drive away stray elephants. 

The farmers say for more than a month now, about 30 herds of elephants strayed from the conservation area and have since been roaming within their farmlands daily. 

More than 200 acres of maize, groundnuts, finger millets, soya beans, sunflower, and potato gardens have already been destroyed by the wild animals in the villages of Lotor, Wipol, Akadojwat, Lamingonen, Umgot, Tikao, and Toboi in Gule Parish.

Cypriano Odur, a farmer and resident of Tiako village says he lost three acres of maize crops in his garden following the persistent invasion of the stray elephants leaving him with huge losses.

Odur says ever since the elephants started destroying their gardens, UWA rangers haven’t been able to drive them away because of their few numbers.

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Odur notes that the reluctance of UWA rangers and other security personnel to drive away the elephants have left locals with no choice but to devise their ways of trapping and killing the elephants.

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Clement Ocen, a resident of Umgot village says that the land they are farming on is outside the wildlife corridor. Ocen says the persistent wildlife invasion in their area has left residents vulnerable and unable to take care of their families.

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He says although the community could resort to killing the elephants, they are afraid of being arrested and prosecuted yet their crops are constantly being eaten by the elephants.

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Denis Ojara, the LCI Chairperson of Tikao village has appealed to the government to intervene and help the affected residents in his area.

He says the once vibrant agricultural area is now being deserted by farmers who have consistently been making losses.

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Ojara accuses UWA rangers deployed in the affected areas of taking their time to respond to emergency calls from the community. He adds that the rangers arrive when the elephants have already destroyed gardens.

Luo

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Kitgum Resident District Commissioner William Komakech says the district security committee had earlier agreed to make joint deployment but the move was frustrated by non-compliance from UWA who were to take the lead.

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But Samuel Amanya, the Chief Warden at Kidepo Valley National Park disputes the report. He says that there are ten Uganda People’s Defence Forces-UPDF soldiers from Pader District on guard along with four UWA rangers stationed in Tikao village. He also says UWA has integrated wildlife scouts who are using bangers that produces loud sounds to drive away from the elephants adding that they have been successful.

Amanya regretted the destruction adding that UWA is doing all its best to drive away from the elephants from the human settlement areas.

Chua East Member of Parliament Margaret Lamwaka who visited the affected farmers in Tikao village on Tuesday says she will push for compensation by UWA to people whose crops were destroyed by stray elephants.

//cue in: “I must make…

Cue out:…invade people’s gardens.”//