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Stray elephants destroy crops in Buliisa

Farmers in Buliisa district are crying foul over an alleged invasion of about 20 stray elephants said to have been destroying their crops since June, this year.

The elephants are said to have come from Murchison Falls National Park, which is 34.2 kilometres away from Buliisa Town Council.

An estimate of 40 acres of crops; mainly maize, sweet potatoes, cassava, jackfruits, pawpaws and bananas, have been the most affected in the sub-counties of Ngwedo, Kigwera, Buliisa, Bugana and Kisyabi.

Solomon Wamara a farmer in Ngwedo sub-county, accused Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) of delayed response in dealing with the elephants besides complaints being earlier on raised by residents.

“Government should know its responsibility and come to our rescue,” said Wamara, who has since lost four acres of maize, sweet potatoes and cassava in Mubaaku village.

When contacted however, the LC3 Chairperson for Kigwera sub-county Roggers Kiiza said officials from UWA met with the community in July over the matter.

He said they (UWA) told them that the solution would be to construct a 20 kilometre electric fence to deter the elephants, a resolution that would be met only when the agency got some funds secured.

A background search by The Albertine Journal found out that UWA has come short of guns to deal with the animals (elephants) which are allegedly crossing from various points in groups and pitching camp at Waiga stream before heading to gardens.

Kiiza echoed the need to increase the number of rangers deployed in the area in order to curb the challenge which he said could cause hunger and starvation if not well handled.

Moreen Nsekanabo, a mother of six and resident of Buliisa sub-county, wants the government to compensate her for all her crops destroyed so that she can support her children back to school.

Efforts to get a comment from UWA were futile as our repeated calls to their spokesperson, Bashir Hangi, went unanswered.

The Uganda Wildlife Act 2019, as amended, provides for compensation, but this can be done through committees, which are set up right from village, parish and sub-county to the district level.

Relevant district officials must be members on those committees. Others on the committee include conservationists and community members. The aforesaid committees have since not been constituted.

The same law says if crops are destroyed by baboons, monkeys and bush pigs, the owners will not be compensated because these are naturally classified as vermins.

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