Poachers hit Uganda Wild life Authority-UWA staff

A number of Poachers on Mt. Elgon National Park have attacked officials of the Uganda Wildlife Authority stabbing one of them and forcing others to flee.

Mr Abdulla Mashaka, 34, was attacked on Thursday by poachers and their hunting dogs at Benet in Kween District. He was cut with a panga and injured severely on the hands and limbs before the poachers took off into the bushes.

The UWA head ranger at Piswa Ranger Station, Sgt. Jonai Okello, confirmed the attack, saying Mr Mashaka has been hospitalised at Viena Clinic in Mbale town.

Mr Okello said the poachers after brutally cutting Mr Mashaka, abandoned him in the bush before a reinforcement of UWA rangers came to his rescue. “The rangers were moving from their station and going about with their business when they were confronted by the poachers who were armed with spears, arrows, machetes and dogs,” he said. “Sensing danger, the poachers attacked our staff. Although others managed to escape, Mr Mashaka was over powered and cut several times and he also sustained dog bites.”

The medical officer at Viena Clinic, Mr Micheal Gibogi, said Mr Mashaka sustained deep cuts on his body and that doctors have put him on medication. “He also sustained dog bites on the right lower limb and the upper right limb and at the time he was brought here, he had bled so much and he was unconscious. We are going to give him anti-rabies because the dogs were not immunised,” said Mr Gibogi. This attack on UWA staff comes barely six months after another UWA officer, Fred Toskin, was killed and the body was recovered from the park approximately one kilometre from Suam Uganda Wild life Authority range.

According to Mt. Elgon Conservation Area Manager, Mr Adonia Bintorwa, the poachers have intensified poaching on the park’s animals for game meat and that it is losing out on the valuable species of animals that are meant to attract tourists. “They hunt the buffaloes, bush bucks, calabash monkey, dykes and elephants and most of the animals are now running to the friendlier Kenyan side as Uganda loses out on tourism,” Mr Bintorwa said yesterday.

This comes at a time several encroachers have been demanding for re-degazetting of the park to allow them 1,206 hectares for settlement and farming, something government has rejected citing adverse effects such activities can have on the environment.

The UWA Public Relations Officer, Ms Lillian Nsubuga, said the  wildlife body does not have any particular interest in the national park but that they are obligated to save the park from extinction not only as a major tourist attraction in the area but also as a climate modifier and source of water for most rivers in eastern Uganda. “Local leaders should get involved in the sensitisation and education of the people to understand the value of Mt. Elgon National Park to Uganda and save us these killings,” said Ms Nsubuga.

The authorities in Mt Elgon National Park mid last year gave a one-month ultimatum to more than 14,000 people who had illegally settled around the park to vacate the place or face forcefully eviction. But many of them have since refused to leave the area.

Compiled by Jackie

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