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Stray elephants invade Kitgum district

News | The Northern Link UG | Herds of elephants have strayed from Kidepo Valley National park into community farmlands in Orom sub-county, Kitgum district.

The elephants reportedly invaded three parishes of Gule, Lungayura, and Lolwa in early June according to reports from local authorities.

Orom sub-county chairperson Johnson Todera Acellam says that close to 200 hectares of food crops have since been destroyed by the marauding elephants.

Acellam says the destroyed crops include maize, groundnuts, sim-sim, finger millet, soya beans, cassava, and banana plantations.

He notes that the destruction has sparked fear of hunger in the coming months since some of the crops like groundnuts and maize were already due for harvest.

He says the elephants have been destroying people’s crops for the past weeks without any intervention from Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA officials. Acellam notes that the UWA team has failed to drive away from the herds of elephants due to their few numbers citing that only four UWA rangers have been deployed in the area that covers over 26 villages.

Kitgum Resident District Commissioner William Komakech acknowledges the invasion of the stray elephants adding that they have deviated from the wildlife corridor by 15 kilometers into human settlement areas. He says the elephants strayed from Kidepo Valley National park through entry points of Motot, Wicoro, and Lungayura.

Komakech says security has come up with a resolution to deploy joint security personnel comprising the Police, Anti-Theft Stock Unit, Uganda Prisons, and Uganda People Defence Forces-UPDF soldiers to drive out the stray elephants. He says the one-week exercise will be commanded by Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers.

He adds that in a recent meeting they held in Orom sub-county, locals were advised to devise measures of keeping the elephants away from their gardens through growing red pepper, beekeeping, and digging trenches.

Efforts to get comments from UWA spokesperson Bashir Hangi were futile by press time as he didn’t pick repeated phone calls.

This is not the first time elephants are straying from Kidepo Valley National park into community land and ravaging crops. In May this year, about 20 herds of elephants strayed from the conservation area into areas of Lolwa, Lulia, Kurumuk, and Tikao leaving trails of destruction in the community

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