KAABONG – Several herds of migrating elephants and buffalos have destroyed hundreds of gardens in the two districts of Kaabong and Karenga in northern Karamoja.
The elephants usually move from Kidepo National Park southwards through Loleia and Sidok Sub Counties through north of Kotido and Abim district to connect to Pian Upe Game Reserve.
Mr. Mark Abuku the Kaabong District Chairperson told PML Daily on Sunday, September 22, in a telephone interview that elephants and buffalos have left a huge trail of destruction and that families will miss out on harvests in this season.
“People of Kaabong had expected a good harvest this year but I’m telling you the elephants have finished all the crops in the gardens and this is dangerous for the families,” he said.
A similar situation happened in the newly created Karenga District where district officials say the elephants and buffalos have destroyed gardens too.
Mr. Simon Akoriyo one of the farmers in Kawalakol sub-counties in Karenga District said his seven acres of maize have all been destroyed by the wild animals.
“As we speak I don’t know how I will pay school fees for my children because the maize I had planted was partly for that purpose,” he lamented.
Mary Akello, another farmer, asked the Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) to compensate the affected families adding that it is the responsibility of the body to prevent wild animals from destroying people’s crops.
Ms Lily Akello the District Woman Member of Parliament for Karenga said the elephants and the Buffalos have left more than 2,000 families in Sangar, Kapedo, Lobalangit, Karenga, Lokori and Kawalakol sub-counties without food.
She called upon the government to intervene by digging trenches, putting up electric fences and increasing surveillance of rangers to oversee all the affected areas.
“Government needs to come to our rescue because the situation is too bad, people had hopes to harvest their crops but the wild animals have destroyed everything,” she said.
Mr. Samson Lokeris the Member of Parliament for Dodoth East in Kaabong District said they are planning to meet with the UWA top management to see how to address the situation.
Mr. Johnson Masereka the UWA area conservation manager blamed residents for paying a deaf ear to the several calls by UWA advising them to stop scattering their gardens.
“We have told the people of Karenga and Kaabong to stop scattering their gardens for easy protection but they don’t listen and it becomes very difficult to protect scattered gardens,” he said.
Mr. Masereka also blamed residents for invading the Karenga Community Wild Life Management area which is one of the few conservation areas in North Eastern Uganda.
Karenga Community Wildlife Management Area which is just next to Kidepo National Game Park was gazetted in 2002 and it covers an area of over 956 square kilometres (369 square miles) and is within the Northern Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and thickets ecosystem, thus being part of the famous Kidepo Valley National Park critical scenery. However, the locals including top politicians at the district and sub-county level invaded the area and opened up gardens there despite several warnings from UWLA.