Karenga district residents are pleading with the government to implement permanent measures to address the continuous destruction of crops by wildlife, primarily elephants and hippos. The locals express their frustration, stating that efforts to guard crops and protect livestock from wild animals have proven futile, leading to economic losses for nearly half of the households in the district dependent on agriculture.
Julius Lobong, a resident of Kapedo Sub County, shares his recurring struggle with elephants and hippos destroying his crops without receiving compensation from wildlife authorities. This lack of compensation exacerbates the economic challenges faced by farmers, impacting their livelihoods significantly.
Albert Okello, another resident, emphasizes the pervasive nature of the wildlife invasion, raising concerns about its potential impact on the produce enterprise selected for the PDM program. Despite attempting various methods to protect crops against wild animals, residents find their efforts in vain, leading to significant losses of farmland.
Some residents resort to spending nights in gardens, risking encounters with dangerous wild animals in a desperate attempt to safeguard their crops. The lack of compensation and the ongoing challenges have resulted in negative perceptions, prompting some communities to respond by killing wild animals.
Richard Muhabwe, the Chief Warden of Kidepo Valley National Park, acknowledges the severity of wildlife attacks on crops and emphasizes efforts to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts. While cooperating with community members to deter wild animals, Muhabwe notes ongoing assessments of damages for compensation, including cases where people were injured or killed by wild animals.
Filbert Ocailap, the Karenga Resident District Commissioner, urges the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to intensify efforts in managing wildlife destructions in communities. He emphasizes the need for improved community awareness through sensitization on using wildlife attractants around homes and gardens.
Ocailap also addresses concerns about delayed compensation, urging authorities to prioritize timely payments. He emphasizes the importance of finding effective means to handle wildlife conflicts, building trust and hope within the affected communities.