Injured stray elephant kills man in Nwoya

A herd of elephants in Murchison Falls National Game Park. (Courtesy photo)

An injured elephant has killed a 40-year-old Kole man in Nwoya District.

Celestino Odong died when he was being rushed to a clinic in Oyam district after being attacked by a stray elephant from Murchison Falls National Park.

Mr Justine Odong Ajaji, the Lii Sub-county Chairman, told this website that Odong met his fate when he was being carried on a motorcycle by Dick Ogwang at Gony Coko village in Lii sub-county, Nwoya ditrict.

The chairman said the duo was going for their masonry work when they met an injured elephant three kilometres off Karuma-Pakwach Highway.

Mr Ajaji said upon seeing the elephant, the rider stopped and parked the motorcycle.

No sooner had the duo stopped than the injured elephant charged at them forcing Ogwang to flee.

However, having never seen any elephant and the way to defend himself, Odong decided to lie down on the ground where the elephant found him and trampled on him critically.

Sound bite: Ajaji on elephant (English)

In 2019, the government of Uganda earmarked Shs50b for the first phase to fence off the boundary of Murchison Falls National Park with barbed wire covering 10km and 20km in Oyama and Nwoya districts respectively.

Government also put a number of other measures to keep the elephants inside the park including trench digging and chili growing around the park boundary besides training community scouts and shooting to scare away the wild animals.

However, the measures seem helpless as a result of human destruction where poachers cut the electrified fence for them to enter the park and hunt the animals while elephants help one another to cross the trenches.

“I hear that poachers in our neighbouring areas are cutting the fence. This will render the project ineffective,” said Mr Ajaji.

He advised government to reconsider employing local youths to protect the boundary of Murchison Falls National Game Park.

“If government is recruiting home guards and Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel, why can’t it be done to protect the boundary of Murchison Falls National Park?” Said Mr Ajaji.

The Sub-county chairman faulted the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for allegedly failing to control the elephants saying rangers intervene only when community members call them for rescue.

“We have always been demanding for a ranger post to be put close to the community for timely intervention but this is something that UWA has failed to heed to.” Mr Ajaji said warning that community members may turn to handling wildlife themselves if the Authority fails to cooperate with them.

“We all know that there is no clear compensation for the damages caused by elephants. Then, who are we to continue watching the death and destruction caused by elephants? Elephants follow people up to their homes and injure them and as leaders we have reached a point that we are even tired of intervening in attempts to control the community from revenging” he said angrily.

Efforts to get the Community Conservation Warden, Mr Wilson Kagoro and the UWA Communication Officer, Mr Bashir Hangi, for comments were fruitless since they did not answer our repeated phone calls.

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