By Christopher Nyeko
GULU: A total of 3445 human-wildlife conflict cases were registered by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) during the 2019–2020 fiscal year.
The cases were recorded in the 10 conservation areas across the country, where Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area registered the highest number of 1,022 cases, followed by Kibale Conservation Area with 706 cases and Murchison Falls Conservation Area with 630 cases.
Other conservation areas include Kidepo Valley Conservation Area, which recorded 356 cases; Lake Mburo and Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Areas, which recorded 206 cases each; and UWA Headquarters, which recorded 270 cases.
Out of the 3445 cases, 2,322 were cases of crop damages; 61 were human injuries; 37 were human deaths; 130 were livestock deaths; and 3 were livestock injuries. Others include 392 human threat cases, 28 property damage cases, two water damage cases, and 470 cases of wild animals marauding in the community.
Samuel Amanya, the chief Warden of Kidepo Valley Conservation Area, attributed the high human-wildlife conflict cases to human encroachment into protected areas for settlement, poaching, and agriculture.
Amanya also attributed the cases to the increase in the population of wild animals such as elephants and buffaloes, revealing that in 2014, Kidepo was estimated to have 407 elephants and 6147 buffaloes, but according to the 2022 report, the conservation area is estimated to have 700 elephants and 8000 buffaloes.
He also cited the effect of climate change, which has led to a shortage of water due to prolonged drought in the conservation areas and is driving wild animals from the conservation areas.
According to the UWA 2019-2022 report, the most affected areas include Namokora sub county and Orom sub county, all in Kitgum district neighboring Kidepo, Koch Lii, Goma, Got Apwoyo, and Purongo sub counties in Nwoya district neighboring Murchison Fall conservation area, where crops such as sorghum, maize, cassava, beans, millet, and potatoes, among others, are grown.
Geoffrey Opyet Junior, the Namokora sub county chairperson, last week petitioned UWA and the office of the Prime Minister for relief food for the affected residents in the sub county, who he said lack food due to the destruction of their crops by the wild animals.
Opyet says in a bid to reduce the destruction of their crops by wild life, farmers have resorted to rudimentary methods of scaring the wild animals, citing drumming, blowing a vuvuzela, lighting fire, burning red chili, and using scare crows.
He, however, says the farmers are sometimes attacked by wild animals as they employ these methods.
Hangi Bashir, the communications manager at UWA, says the agency has embarked on giving beehives to the farmers neighboring the conservation areas, digging trenches, building stone walls, recruiting more wildlife scouts and human-wildlife rangers, and erecting electric fences, among other interventions, as solutions to the human-wildlife conflicts.
He, however, decries the inadequacy of personnel and logistics, plus attacks on game rangers by poachers, which he says hamper the agency’s efforts to curb human-wildlife conflicts in the country.
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