Last Updated on: 31st March 2023, 01:13 pm
The hunting and killing of wild animals were associated with land use and the destruction of crops [gardens] in the [areas] district.
By Okai Ambrose & Milton Emmy Akwam
Kole – Sept. 23, 2022: Details have emerged as to why the Kole district leaders opted to hire some people to hunt, kill and dispel a group of wild animals that had given communities [farmers] sleepless nights.
Exclusive information TND News has got is that the operations lasted three days and were sanctioned by a top district leader.
Why were the operations needed and what happened after? According to Mary Acen, the area councillor of Abur parish to Ayer sub-county council, following repeated cries by the communities of Abur, in June 2022, they reported the problem they were facing as farmers to them [leaders].
“We [councillors] from Abur were told that some animals, among them monkeys, were eating maize, soybeans, and beans and uprooting the planted sweet potatoes and harvesting cassava,” she said.
“When they reported to us, in June 2022, we liaised with the LC chairperson of Ayer and he found the problem complex for him and recommended us to the Kole district LC5 chairman, Andrew Awany who received our report and started looking for solutions.”
According to Acen, from June, Awany thought of bringing soldiers to come and ‘shoot’ the monkeys disturbing the local people [farmers].
However, in July, she tells TND News that Awany reported back to them saying he tried hard but there was no proper coordination.
He later phoned some of his friends who sent him some people who hunt using spears. These people [hunters] arrived on September 17, 2022, and started hunting these animals, the majority of them found in Abur and Aweki parishes, according to the area councillor, Akot.
“They stayed for three days hunting. On the first day, they killed two monkeys and one black wildcat (which was eating chickens). On day two, Sunday 18, they killed eight monkeys and two antelopes,” she explains to us the flow of the hunting event.
On Monday, she says they carried out hunting and reported that the majority of the monkeys had retreated to Okole swamp. None was killed on the final day, Monday, 19.
The affected areas: Abur, Apuriparo, and Aweki, this publication was told, are surrounded by Okole where the woodland ends.
The hunters told local leaders that once maize in the gardens starts to make pods, they will return for the same activity to save the farmers.
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Councillor Acen, on behalf of other local leaders, is appealing to anybody who can help connect them to those in charge of wildlife conservation to do so.
LC5 chairman, Awany speaks
Speaking to TND News, Awany said he was also informed by the District Agricultural Officer of Kole that monkeys were disturbing people.
He described the hunting exercise as “a community intervention” to make sure hunger is chased. “You know, we had famine [hunger] and if communities bring issues that affect them, we have to look for appropriate ways to help them because hunger is bad and I can’t accept any human being dying of hunger.”
“So, what we do is to get a short solution that can give time to the local people,” he added.
Was it a crime that Kole hired local hunters to kill the wild animals?
Whereas no local leaders described the event as “criminal” and would not affirm that, but rather a community intervention, in Uganda, wildlife continues to face challenges. Poaching and illegal wildlife trade are common.
The Uganda Wildlife Legislative Framework for species protection and illegal trade endeavors to address these conservation challenges through the Uganda Wildlife Act (2019) and Wildlife Policy (2014) and other sector policies and legislation on wildlife and biodiversity protection.
The Local Governments Act, Cap 243 (2019), the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act (2003), the Fish Act, Cap 197 (2000), the National Policy for the Conservation and Management of Wetlands (1995) and the Uganda Forestry Policy (2001) are some of the policies in place.
According to a Handbook on Wildlife-Related Offences and Penalties in Uganda, one of the most common wildlife crimes in Uganda is poaching. It is defined as the illegal killing of wild animals for their meat, recreation, or the rare products obtained from them for example; fur, hides, ivory, and horns among others, or the illegal taking of wild resources or derived parts from their natural habitat (Uganda Wildlife Act 2019).
By the time of editing this story, we could not get comments from the officials at Uganda Wildlife Authority on if; they will pursue Kole leaders for the ‘crime’ committed.