Kabong, Uganda | The Independent | Many families in Kabong and Karinga districts of Karamoja sub-district are at risk of starvation after buffalos and elephants destroy their crops from Kedepo National Games Park. Some families URN interviewed in Karinga sub-county in Karinga district said Friday that migratory elephants and buffaloes destroyed hundreds of their crop gardens and left them without hope of harvesting food.
Elephants usually move from Kidepo National Game Park in Karenga area south through Loleia and Sidok sub-counties towards northern Kotido and Abim where they connect to the Pian Upe Game Reserve in Nakapiripirit to Mt. Elgon in search of water.
One of the farmers, Johnson Ojara, said he planted six acres of corn expecting 300 bags that the animals ate. “I am the model farmer here, and I always grow very many acres of corn, this year I had six acres planted and it was doing well but as it was blossoming, elephants and buffalo came and ate all acres with two six acres finished.
Peter Abach, President of LC III in Karinga County, told URN that elephants and buffaloes have left a trail of devastation, adding that families in Karinga missed the harvest the previous season. “The people of Karinga have grown crops and are expecting a good harvest this year, but I am telling you that the elephants have finished all the crops in the gardens and this is dangerous for families,” he said.
Rose Lily Akilo, Karinga district parliamentarian, says she has continued to appeal to the government to dig trenches or build electric fences to prevent wild animals from reaching people’s gardens, to no avail. She said the situation was getting worse and appealed to the government to be ready to support the affected families.
“The people of Karinga are serious farmers, and most of them have grown a lot of corn, but the buffaloes and the elephants destroyed all the crops before they could ripen,” she said. A similar situation has been reported in Lobalangit sub-county in the Kaabong region where officials say elephants and buffaloes have destroyed crop gardens.
Peter Akure, a member of the Parish Council of Lopalanheit, said he planted 7 acres of corn but that the elephants destroyed all of them. “While we are talking now, I do not know how I will pay the school fees for my children when the schools open soon and even what to eat because the corn I planted would help me pay my children’s tuition fees as well as for food but the elephants destroyed it.”
Betty Akilo, another farmer, has asked the Ugandan Wildlife Authority – UWA to compensate the affected families, saying that the responsibility for protecting wild animals against destroying people’s crops rests with the authority. “The government should come to save us because the situation is very bad. People were hoping to harvest their crops, but now the wild animals have destroyed their gardens,” she said.
Samson Lokeris, Kaabong Dodoth East MP, said they plan to meet with UWA senior management to find out how to address the situation.
Johnson Maserica, Kidepo District Preservation Director, blamed residents for paying deaf ears to the many calls made by UWA advising them to stop spreading their gardens. “We have asked the people of Karinga and Kabung to stop spreading their gardens for easy protection but they are not listening and it becomes very difficult to protect the scattered gardens,” he said.
He also blamed residents for invading the Karenga Community Wild Life Management area, which is one of the few conservation areas in northeastern Uganda.