A 38-year-old man, Richard Okello alias Ocii Lapar, has been killed by an elephant at Agung Village in Anaka Sub-county, Nwoya District.
Although a local authority source says Okello died when he was joined by other people to drive away a parade of six elephants that was destroying his rice garden at around 10pm, other versions give sharply different accounts.
Ms Christine Abalo, the village vice chairperson, told our reporter in Nwoya that the deceased who was the last in the line to chase away the herbivores died after one elephant that had remained behind charged at him, killing him instantly.
“He was driving away the elephants with his colleagues. Unfortunately he was the last and did not know that there was yet another elephant behind him that attacked and killed him” Ms Abalo explained to this website.
However, a source privy to the information and preferred anonymity to freely speak to Kazi-njema News said that Okello had gone with his colleagues to catch fish in Murchison Falls National Game Park when he met his death.
“They were coming from fishing in Ayago River inside Murchison Falls National Game Park and while moving back home, they bumped into the elephant which they never recognised earlier since the grass is tall,” the anonymous source explained.
Adding: “I am told that one of the colleagues survived after he undressed and threw away his sweater, thus, confusing the elephant that had already cornered him.”
When contacted, Mr Wilson Kagoro, the community conservation warden at Murchison Falls National Game Park said he only heard the information as rumours and was yet to receive official information.
“I cannot confirm what happened exactly because I have not yet received official information apart from hearsay,” Mr Kagoro said.
The Anaka Sub-county Local Council 3 Chairman, Mr Geoffrey Opobo, confirmed the report adding that the authorities requested the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to allow them pick the body.
“We appreciate them [UWA] for permitting us entry into the [national game] park to give a decent burial to the deceased as our culture demands,” he said.
However, Mr Opobo challenged UWA to consider deploying game rangers in his area of jurisdiction which has been greatly affected by marauding elephants destroying crops.
“When you see majority of the people entering Murchison Falls National Park illegally to carry out poaching, these are people going there out of frustration simply because they have lost all their crops to the stray elephants” said Mr Opobo.
“In fact the only people that are managing farming in this area are commercial farmers who have the capacity to guard their farms,” he added.
UWA has applied several mechanisms including training scouts, planting chili and digging trenches around the game park frontiers to keep the elephants at bay but nothing has proven effective.
In January 2019, government earmarked Shs50b for the first phase to fence off Murchison Falls National Game Park with electrified barbed wire covering 10 kilometers in Oyam district and 20 kilometers in Nwoya district.
The five-kilometer-project for Nwoya kicked off on January 26, 2020 from Pabit West village, Pabit parish up to Lagaji village in Purongo sub-county. The next phase will begin next year 2021 picking up from the end point.
However, Mr Kagoro said that the outbreak of COVID-19 in March this year, may affect the project due to the sharp decline in foreign earning in the tourism sector.
He added that since the announcement of the lockdown, Murchison Falls National Game Park has only been able to get 30 percent of what they used to collect from tourists before.
Mr Kagoro disclosed that currently, there are few tourists visiting the park with majority being local ones.
“Most of the visitors we are receiving currently are local tourists that also pay less in terms of entrance fee”.
In May 2017, an elephant killed a 50-year-old farmer, William Odaga, from Aringo-Kec village Obira Parish in Got Apwoyo sub-county, Nwoya district.
In July 2018, a seven-year-old boy, Griffin Ayoo was killed by an elephant at Latoro village in Got Apwoyo sub-county, Nwoya district.