AGAGO – A member of the Local Defence Unit (LDU) in Agago District was last weekend by an elephant as he allegedly poached in Kidepo National Park.
Moses Okot Ojwang had allegedly gone with colleagues to poach in the national park and kill an elephant for ivory.
Kidepo National Park Warden Walter Odokorwot told PML Daily in a telephone interview that the soldiers then fired several bullets as they attempted to scare off the elephants.
“The elephants attacked the soldiers in revenge after they fired many bullets at them with aim of killing one for ivory,” Mr Odokorowt said.
The incident happened in Lapono sub-county, Agago district.
“We are waiting for our plane to come so that we go for real findings of what happened on the ground, because we suspect these soldiers could have injured the elephants,” Mr Odokorowt added.
The Lapono sub-county chairperson, Mr Lagen Mathew, however, said the three LDUs were patrolling the area looking at the Karamojong warriors but they attacked by elephants.
He said the deceased was killed on Saturday and his body was recovered on Monday.
“AK 47 rifle with 12 round of ammunition that were used by Mr. Okot (deceased) were recovered,” he said
The district councillor for Lapono sub-county, who doubles as secretary for Finance and Administration, Mr. Ogal Joel, described the incident as very unfortunate.
Kidepo Valley National Park is a 1,442 square kilometres national park in the Karamoja region. Kidepo is rugged savannah, dominated by the 2,750 metres Mount Morungole and transected by the Kidepo and Narus rivers.
Elephants are generally killed not for meat but for their tusks made of ivory that is used in making expensive jewellery. In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned trade in ivory and other elephant products following the massive killing of elephants in Africa to supply the demand for ivory in Asian markets, especially in China.
With the ban of the International market on sale of ivory, elephant populations in Africa started recovering and in Southern African countries (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe), the numbers of elephants increased to levels that instead caused habitat destruction and created lots of community conflicts
In 2015, two police officers were arrested from Lapono sub-county in Agago district for illegal poaching of animals from Game Park, they were arranged in court and sentenced for 3 years of in prison.