Warriors turn guns on wildlife in Kidepo Park

Col David Byaruhanga, the commander 405 brigade addressing the reformed warriors during peace meeting. PHOTO URN

Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Armed Karamojong warriors have sought refuge in Kidepo National Park, resorting to killing wild animals for sustenance, raising concerns about their impact on the park’s ecosystem. Security has confirmed that these warriors, previously active in terrorizing Kaabong and Kotido districts, have relocated to Karenga district, using the game park as a hideout.

In a meeting with local officials, Maj Gen Don Nabasa, the UPDF 3rd Division commander said that warriors are utilizing firearms to hunt wild animals for both sustenance and profit.  Their actions include theft of food from locals and hunting wild animals for consumption before conducting cattle raids.

He, however, noted that increased pressure from security forces has restricted their movement with firearms. Nabasa revealed that plans are underway by security to eject the warriors from the game park.

Richard Muhabwe, the Chief Warden of Kidepo Valley National Park, acknowledged the escalating challenge of safeguarding wildlife from significant poaching by armed Karamojong and poachers from South Sudan.

Despite ongoing efforts to combat illegal poaching, Muhabwe highlighted an increase in Wildlife killings along the Uganda-South Sudan border, particularly targeting buffalos for consumption in areas like Kawanakol and Lobalangit. Joint security operations are being coordinated to address these threats within and around the park.

Felix Lochale, the Karenga district LC 5 chairperson, emphasized the warriors’ intrusion into gardens for food and their refusal to relinquish firearms, citing their use for hunting and community threats. Lochale urged swift action by security forces to safeguard residents and eliminate the armed criminals.

Filbert Ocailap, the Karenga Resident District Commissioner, highlighted the desertion of some security officers, potentially aiding the armed warriors’ activities. Ocailap called for thorough investigations into desertion cases, emphasizing the need for caution during operations in the park due to the deserters’ knowledge of operational strategies.

In response to the warriors’ refusal to surrender illegal firearms within the stipulated two-week period, security forces have initiated an operational plan to apprehend these individuals.



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