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UWA slashes crops in Hoima wildlife protected area

UW signpost for Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve in Hoima (Photo/Courtesy)

Hoima, (UG): The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has taken action against several crops planted within the Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve, spanning Kikuube and Hoima Districts.

The affected crops, including maize, sweet potatoes, beans, and groundnuts, were owned by Ms Everce Atuhairwe, a 60-year-old resident of Kawaibbanda village in Toonya parish, Biseruka sub-county in Hoima district.

Ms Atuhairwe shared that she was weeding in her garden when a team of UWA rangers, armed with rifles and cutting tools, appeared and immediately began slashing down her crops. The reason cited was that she had cultivated in a wildlife-protected area, and she expressed feeling threatened with arrest as a widow in her 60s.

The Chairman of Kawaibbanda Village, Mr George Kisembo, stated that the village executive plans to petition the wildlife ombudsman for community sensitization regarding the guidelines in conservation areas. This is aimed at fostering a harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife.

Mr. George Busiinge, the Warden of Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve and Hoima Central Wildlife Area under UWA, told this publication that the destruction of the crops occurred after Ms. Atuhairwe refused to heed advice to stop planting in the protected area, despite extensive awareness campaigns.

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He emphasized that cultivating crops in the conservation area poses a threat, as it can be exploited by lawbreakers to trap and hunt wild animals for game meat, endangering protected species.

Mr. Busiinge revealed that in addition to farming, communities in the vicinity engage in charcoal burning, which harms the habitat for wild animals, pushing them to stray into human settlements where they are killed, affecting tourism income.

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He clarified that only fishing is allowed in water bodies within Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve and Hoima Central Wildlife Area, and the UWA plans to increase visibility along Lake Albert shores by constructing accommodation for staff to monitor activities and mitigate illicit actions within the conservation area.

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