Karenga, Kaabong families at risk of starvation as elephants, buffalos destroy gardens (Uganda) The Independent January 11, 2021
KAABONG, UGANDA: Several families in Kaabong and Karenga districts in Karamoja sub region are at risk of starvation following the destruction of their crops by buffalos and elephants from Kidepo National Game Park. Some of the families interviewed by URN in Karenga Sub County in Karenga district on Friday said the migrating elephants and Buffalos have destroyed hundreds of their crop gardens leaving them with no hope of harvesting food.
The elephants usually move from Kidepo National Game Park in Karenga district southwards through Loleia and Sidok Sub Counties towards North of Kotido and Abim district where they connect to Pian Upe game reserve in Nakapiripirit to Mt. Elgon in search of water.
Johnson Ojara, one of the farmers said he had planted six acres of maize with the expectation of getting of 300bags that was eaten by the animals. “Am the model farmer here, and I always plant very many acres of maize, this year I had planted six and it was doing very well but just as it was flowering, the elephants and Buffalo’s come and eat all the acres with two days the six acres were finished,” he said.
Peter Abach, the Karenga sub-county LC III chairperson told URN that the elephants and Buffalos have left a huge trail of destruction, adding that families in Karenga missed out harvest in the previous season. “People of Karenga had planted crops expecting a good harvest this year but am telling you the elephants finished all the crops in the gardens and this is dangerous for the families,” he said.
Rose Lily Akello, the Karenga district woman Member of Parliament, says that they have kept on pleading with the government to dig trenches or construct electric fences to prevent wild animals from accessing people’s gardens in vain. She said the situation was getting worse and appealed to the government to be on standby to support the affected families.
“People of Karenga are serious farmers and most of them had planted a lot of maize but the buffalos and elephants destroyed all the crops before maturing,” she said. A similar situation has been reported in Lobalangit sub-County in Kaabong district where the officials, say the elephants and Buffalos have destroyed crop gardens.
Peter Akore, the Lobalanhit parish councillor, said he cultivated 7 acres of maize but all have been destroyed by the elephants. “As we speak right now I don’t know how I will pay school fees for my children when schools are opened soon and even what to eat because the maize I had planted would have helped me pay the tuition of my children and also for food but it has been destroyed by elephants,” he said.
Betty Akello, another farmer asked Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA to compensate the affected families, saying it’s the responsibility of the authority to guard wild animals against destroying people’s crops. “Government needs to come to our rescue because the situation is too bad, people had hopes to harvest their crops but now the wild animals have destroyed their gardens,” she said.
Samson Lokeris, the Dodoth East Member of Parliament in Kaabong district, said they are planning to meet with the UWA top management to see how to address the situation.
Johnson Masereka, the Kidepo area conservation manager blamed residents for paying deaf ears to several calls by UWA advising them to stop scattering their gardens. “We have told the people of Karenga and Kaabong to stop scattering their gardens for easy protection but they don’t listen and it becomes very difficult to protect 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 within the North Eastern Uganda.