Victims of wildlife attacks in Kasese District are seeking compensation for the injuries sustained during strikes by animals from Lake Edward. The shoreline of the lake, one of the water bodies in Queen Elizabeth National Park is a habitat for Hippos, Buffaloes, elephants and crocodiles.
Records show that the wildlife population in the lake has grown excessively over the years creating conflicts and increasing attacks on people from the shoreline. Some of the victims have been amputated while others are still fighting for their lives in various health facilities across Kasese and neighbouring districts.
Charles Mugisa, one of those whose lives were shattered when he was attacked by a hippo, recounts that he was getting back from his brickmaking routine when he encountered the beast. At the time, he lost consciousness, only to find himself helplessly lying at Kibito HC IV in Bunyangabu District with no legs.
Mugisa demands that the government compensates victims of community attacks some of whom, like him, have become permanently disabled. He says that the area from where he was attacked is located three kilometres from the park, but is infested by animals which are not secured from within their habitat.
Mugisa is also seeking support for a routine comprehensive medical examination at a specialized facility.
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Scovia Ahimbisibwe, a resident who lost his brother to a crocodile attack in June wants the government to compensate the family. She argues that although marine forces aided to search for the remains of his brother Ramadhan Bukenya, the government must bear the responsibility of attacks that take place outside the protected areas.
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Herbert Kambere, another victim who lost his fingers early in March wants the Uganda Wildlife Authority to pay off all expenses that the victims incur after the attacks by wildlife. Although Kambere received some help from Queen Elizabeth National Park Authorities, he says it was inadequate, and in the end, he sold his motorcycle to get specialized attention.
Robert Kasaija, the Chairperson Katwe Landing Site on lake Edward says that crocodiles have remained a threat to for the fishing community. This year, over five cases of attacks have been registered, out of which, two lives were lost. According to Kasaija, more than 20 lives have been lost to crocodiles over 10 years.
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John Bosco Kananura, the political head of Katwe Kabatoro Town Council says the wildlife attacks in the area are increasingly worrying. He adds that they are now working with the wildlife authority to build water fetching cages around community areas.
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Pascal Ecumu, the in charge of the Marine Police Unit on Lake Edward and George, however, blames most of the attacks on human error arguing that most of those places are gazetted. He appeals to the community to desist from illegally getting into prohibited zones.
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But Bashir Hanji, the UWA spokesperson says that the 2019 law that came into effect in September is yet to have regulations to operationalise the provisions in the act. The regulations are in the final stages according to the UWA spoke upon.
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Parliament last year passed a law which seeks to provide for compensation for loss of life and property caused by animals escaping from wildlife protected areas. It provides for compensation, where a person is killed, suffers bodily injury or suffers damage to his or her crops or livestock by elephants, lions, leopards, crocodiles, buffaloes, hyenas, hippopotamus, gorillas and chimpanzees.
The law requires the affected person or his or her legal representative to submit a claim to the Wildlife Compensation Verification Committee which is supposed to verify the claim and later submit it to the board together with its recommendation. Compensation is awarded after a review by the board.