By Sam Lawino
Eating game meat in areas bordering Murchison Falls National Park is expected to reduce greatly after park authorities opened anti-poaching stations in Pakwach District.
The Semanya Marine Rangers Station is to be equipped with motor boat and 20 marine rangers to fight poachers who have been disguising as fishermen in River Nile.
The marine delta unit was created with support from Uganda Conservation Foundation to Uganda Wild Life Authority. The Murchison park area conservation manager, Mr Tom Okello Obong, said the marines would deal with poachers to stop animal extinction and promote tourism. “This is a historic event in the conservation and tourism industry. The tourism will flourish when poachers are eliminated,” Mr Obong said.
On their first day of operation, the rangers arrested five poachers with snares after they were found at River Nile disguised as fishermen. One of the arrested poachers revealed that last month alone, they killed more than five antelopes and would sell each animal at between Shs150,000 and Shs200,000.
The rangers said fishermen have been taking advantage of rangers who did not know how to swim to dive into the water after being caught poaching. The creation of the station comes following the review of the 1996 Wildlife Act for which consultations were concluded last year.
Among the proposed amendments in the draft is the issue of poaching and trading in wildlife products whose penalties - both fines and jail sentence - have been revised and made more punitive.
For example, if you are caught hunting an elephant, the minimum you can pay is Shs 200m plus 10 years in prison.