Furious women in Lii Sub-County in Nwoya District stripped before the State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Martin Magara Bahinduka on Wednesday to protest against the rampant invasion of elephants.
The Minister was in the district to interact with the communities of Got-Apwoyo, Purongo, and Lii Sub-Counties whose livelihoods have been affected by the marauding elephants from the Murchison Falls National Park.
The residents accused the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), which is mandated to manage and supervise wildlife activities within and outside the protected areas of failing to control the elephants.
Statistics compiled by the Disaster Management Committee indicate that 3, 014 acres of crops have been destroyed by the wild animals this year. Of the number, in Koch Lii Sub-County (787 acres); Anaka Sub-County (632 acres), Kochgoma (456 acres), Purongo (487 acres), and Got-Apwoyo (652 acres).
James Opiro, 59, a resident of Got-Onyang village in Lii Sub-County who wept uncontrollably with deep emotions told URN that the wild beasts grazed and trodden on his 4 acres of soybeans; 2 acres of cassava, several acres of sesame (simsim) and peas.
Bonnet Odoki, a resident of Gotonyang A, Lutuk Parish in Koch Lii Sub-County, says that a roving elephant destroyed his grass-thatched house leaving his family of 12 people homeless.
The angry residents also walked with the Minister on foot in Gonycogo village for over 2kilometers to show him the trenches dug by UWA to prevent the elephants from crossing into the community gardens in vain.
Justine Odong aka Ajajji, the Lii Sub-County LC 3 Chairperson paraded individuals who were attacked by the elephants and have never been compensated despite sustaining life-threatening injuries. In his statement that translated by Geoffrey Opiyo, the Anaka Sub-County LC V Councilor, Ajajji disclosed that up to 15 residents have been killed by the elephants in the past 12 months and 787 acres of crops destroyed.
It took the intervention of the District Woman MP, Judith Peace Achan to convince the mothers to abandon the nude protest and show respect to the Minister as they engage him to find a lasting solution to the human-wildlife conflicts.
Bahinduka, who was accompanied by UWA officials called for patience from the affected community as the Ministry devises a lasting solution to end the wildlife disturbances on the communities neighboring the game park.
The Minister disclosed that they have earmarked Shillings 779 million under the revenue sharing arrangement to benefit the parishes bordering the park. He explained that 95 percent of the money will be directly injected into projects that benefit the affected community while 5 percent will be for monitoring.
Bahinduka also regretted that the trenches that were dug by UWA along the park boundary to prevent the elephants from encroaching into human settlement has not helped and has resulted in a waste of public resources.
The UWA has resumed the installation of electric fences along the 110 kilometers of the demarcated park borderline in Nwoya and neighboring Oyam Districts to mitigate the human-wildlife conflicts