Foods

STRAY ELEPHANTS INVADE KITGUM, FARMERS HARVEST PREMATURE CROPS

By Christopher Nyeko

KITGUM: Thousands of farmers in the sub counties of Namokora, Orom, and Omiya Anyima in Kitgum district are reportedly battling with issues of stray elephants which have destroyed over 500 acres of crops only in Namokora since July this rendering over 1600 families without food.

The persistence attack on crops by marauding elephants are forcing farmers to harvest their crops prematurely
The locals in the three sub counties said they have continued witnessing a herd of elephants from Kidepo Valley National Game Park encroaching into the community land destroying crops.

They said it’s not the first time elephants are destroying crops but it’s a minimal compared to the huge destruction they are experiencing this year.

The Namokora Sub County LC3 Chairperson Geoffrey Opyet told UGReports Wednesday that his sub county has experienced destruction of crop caused by stray elephants saying over 20 acres of cassava, pumpkin, millet, sunflower, maize, sorghums and potatoes in the villages of Rocil, Dyebunga, and Guda.

He says the situation has left over 60 households without food.

Opyet added that the situation has since rendered farmers helpless and is forcing them to embark on picking their premature crops from the garden in order to protect it from being eaten all by straying elephants.

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Mrs. Monica Lanyero, whose garden of sorghum was recently destroyed, said she immediately embarked on harvesting the remaining sorghums, Lanyero is unsure if the premature sorghums she has harvested will stay long in the granary.

John Oketa, resident of Guda in Pugoda East paish, father of 10 children said he has lost over two acres of his banana to elephants.

He added that the banana was the only source of his survival as he always sold it to obtain the money for paying school due to his three children who are in secondary school.

Oketa whose plans were disrupted by this havoc by elephants has appealed to the Uganda wildlife authority to drive away the marauding elephant from their community land.

Another farmer Elizabeth Ladoo, who lost four acres of sorghums to the elephants is demanding the Uganda wildlife authority to compensate her for the lost elephant.

Peter Akera, whose potato garden survived, told UGReports that he has resorted to selling his potatoes to the market vendors cheaply as he feared that  the elephant would come and finish it in one day.

Akera explained that he used to sell dry potatoes locally know as (Otere) in the local market in Kitgum town when the prices is relatively higher but due to the havoc the marauding elephants are causing,he has resorted to selling his potatoes to the middlemen in a very low price.

Local authorities anticipated femaine outbreak, inceases in domestic violence,school dop out thefth, child marriage if elephats  are left to stray in the homestead.

The victims added that continuous wild animal movements have thrown people into panic and fear. People cannot move to their respective garden freely as they ought to come across the stray elephant which sometimes turn violence unto them.

The Kitgum District Chairperson Christopher Arwai Obol said the situation is out of hand adding that the district have been engaging Uganda wildlife authorities but no proper action to keep these elephants away from the community land have been reached.

“Our people are now in object poverty, some of them have lost properties, their lives, and crops, others have failed send  their children to school but have resorted to forcing them to the early child marriage in exchange of food for the family members”

Obol said they have been pleading to the well-wishers to and office of the prime minister to provide food reliefs to the affected families but has never been enough.

The politician further revealed that people are not embracing some cultural practices like marriage as the main source for dowry was through agriculture which is currently affected by protruding elephants.

Recently Kitgum district received twenty tons of maize flour and ten tons of beans as part of the food reliefs from the office of the prime minister where thousands of the affected people benefited from.

The Kidepo Valley National Park Public Relations Officer Martin Oryema confirmed that the elephants are straying away from the conservation area and have destroyed crops in the district of Kitgum, Agago, Abim, Karenga and Kotido.

“Wild animals have gained freedom of moving to some of the animal’s corridors especially during the time of insurgency where people were in internally displaced people camps,” he revealed
Oryema said Uganda Wildlife Authority is employing very many possible ways of deterring these wild animals from the community land.

The public relations officer added that recently UWA embarked on recruiting and training  community scouts who are supposed to work hand in hand with game rangers.

”They were equipped with trumpets which can be used to chase elephants from the gardens,” he said.

Oryema advised affected farmers to mix the chili with cow dung and burn in their garden as a deterrence method citing that the elephants are allergic to the smell of this substance.

He therefore directed  the community to report the case to the nearby UWA outpost which is open in Tikao Orom Sub County so that immediate actions are taken before the elephants destroy properties massively.

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