Straying elephants in search of water and pasture have invaded the northern Ugandan district of Nwoya, attacking several villages and displacing over 2,000 households. The animals came from neighboring Murchison Falls National Park.
Some of the affected villages include: Purongo, Kochgoma, Kalang, Coran and Kocili.
The attacked villages, which are just recovering from a 20-year long rebellion that left tens of thousands dead and about two million homeless have been forced back to the Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps where they managed to survive during their defiance.
Authorities said the elephants, which were more than 25, have destroyed over 9,000 hectares of gardens cultivated by former IDPs trying to rebuild their lives.
Lily Adong, the Nwoya woman member of parliament said, “People live in fear. Most of the people have been returning to the trading centers, which used to be IDP camps. My people are suffering. They don’t have food as marauding elephants have eaten all the food crops and destroyed several gardens.”
The Nwoya district chairman, Patrick Oryema said, “The elephants have destroyed several gardens of crops leaving our people without anything. People need relief food.”
Janat Amito, one of the affected residents of Purongo said, “People had cultivated a lot and we had expected a good harvest. However, elephants have come in and destroyed all our crops. The government should come to the rescue of the people. We can’t continue to live in fear as if we are still in the camps.”
The Uganda Wildlife Authority, UWA, have dug several trenches to stop the invading beasts, but there has been no results.
Despite the law in Uganda which stipulates that no one is allowed to kill a wild animal that is from a protected area, the residents have vowed to hunt down the elephants if the government is not moving in fast to save the situation.
However, Tom Obong Okello, UWA Area Conservation Manager, has said rangers have been deployed in the area to drive back the straying elephants to the park.
Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Refugees, Musa Ecweru, also said the government is aware of the situation, adding that the situation is going to be solved.