Karenga, (UG): Residents of Karenga district have asked the government to provide them with a permanent solution to end the continuous destruction of crops by wildlife.
According to the locals, they are spending nights in the garden guarding crops and protecting livestock from the wild animals all in vain.
They say that farmers have continued losing crops to the wildlife and this has affected nearly half of the households in the district that purely rely on agriculture.
Julius Lobong, a resident of Kapedo Sub County noted that they have for long suffered when elephants and hippos destroy his crops year after year. Lobong said that he has never received any compensation from the wildlife authorities whenever his crops are destroyed which exposes him to hunger.
He noted that the destruction of crops is a big loss to them because it is the only source of livelihood and causes economic losses.
Lobong appealed to the authorities to find a permanent solution to the wild animal menace that has kept them in extreme poverty.
Albert Okello, another resident, observed that the invasion of wild animals has become so rampant and they are afraid that the problem might affect the produce enterprise selected for the PDM program.
He said the wild animals often destroy their standing crops and prey on livestock, especially goats and sheep.
Okello noted that they have tried all possible means to protect the crops against the wild animals, all in vain. He called upon the government to intervene because they were losing a lot of their farmland.
He added that sometimes they risk their lives by spending nights in the gardens trying to protect the crops and this exposes them to dangerous wild animals.
‘’I have lost my crops several times to wildlife but the government did not compensate me, so I’m now requesting the government to teach us on how to protect the wild animals against our crops’’ Okello said.
Richard Muhabwe, the Chief Warden of Kidepo Valley National Park noted that the wildlife attacks on crops have triggered negative perceptions and the communities have been responding by killing wild animals.
He said that they have also been cooperating with the community members to chase the wild animals whenever they invade people’s gardens.
Muhabwe said that they are trying everything possible to mitigate the cases of human wildlife across the district.
He said that the authorities are already moving around the affected areas to ascertain the damages for compensation including people who were injured or killed by wild animals.
Filbert Ocailap, the Karenga Resident District Commissioner urged UWA to keep up their efforts to manage wildlife destructions in the communities.
Ocailap noted that there is also a need to improve community awareness by sensitizing them on how to use wildlife attractants around homes and gardens.
Ocailap said that the affected communities have also been faulting the government for delayed compensation which he urged the authorities to consider paying people in time.
He appealed to the authorities to ensure that they find better means of handling the wildlife conflicts in a way that builds trust and hope in the community.
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