By Wolfgang H. Thome
Sad news was received yesterday when Uganda Wildlife Authority’s (UWA) Executive Director, Dr. Andrew Seguya, confirmed that two more park rangers were killed over the past two days at the hot spot Mt. Elgon National Park, in the past repeatedly the scene of murderous incidents caused by encroachers as well as poachers.
One of UWA’s greatest challenges in the past years was to stem the tide of encroachment, often encouraged by unscrupulous local politicians, but several natural disasters claimed the lives of hundreds of people who had illegally settled in the park and were then victims of landslides, which at least in part were triggered by attempting to cultivate steep slopes.
The gruesome particulars of the two killings emerged during a workshop held in Kampala where the conservation fraternity came together to discuss measures against poaching in Uganda and how to strengthen regulations and legislation with substantially higher fines and longer prison terms when convicted in court for poaching, trade in game meat, and other related offenses.
From regular sources close to UWA, it was learned that security organizations are working on the assumption that the raiders targeted ranger camps to capture guns and ammunition as well as to drive the rangers out of the area to continue poaching. The raids were carried out at the park’s Kamkwayo and Sisinyi camps where one ranger each was killed during the sustained shootouts.
Colleagues of the deceased and staff at the UWA head office in Kampala were said to be in mourning for having lost yet more of their friends and fellow work mates, and Dr. Seguya vowed at the wildlife consultative meeting on Friday morning at the Imperial Royale Hotel to work hand in hand with other security agencies to track down, arrest, and bring to justice those responsible.