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Govt starts installation of extra 40km of electric fence around Murchison Falls National Park

NWOYA, April 23, 2024 – Government, through the Uganda Wildlife Authority [UWA], has resumed construction works for an electric fence around Murchison Falls National Park aimed at preventing the marauding elephants from invading the neighbouring communities.

The construction of an additional 40 kilometers of the fence which kicked off from Purongo Town Council in Nwoya district is expected to be completed before the end of the 2023/2024 financial year.

In 2022, the government installed 44 kilometres of the fence around the game park where Nwoya district was allocated 29 Kilometres while Oyam district got 15 kilometres.

However, the exercise was halted for close to three years due to the absence of an environmental impact assessment report demanded by the World Bank which provided funds for the project.

However, according to the Chief Warden Murchison Falls National Park, Wilson Kagoro, the environmental impact assessment for the project was recently released, paving the way for continuation of the project estimated to cost a total of Shs 6.36 billion.

He said in the next financial year 2024/2025, government plans to fence another 61 kilometres of park’s borderline but this will be done in phases.

“We shall have 145 kilometres around Murchison Falls covered with electric fences in the next two years and we think that this will reduce cases of human-wild animal conflicts in the area,” said Kagoro.

The project in Nwoya district, which commenced in Tangi village in Purongo Town Council will connect to Wangkwaa in Got Apwoyo Subcounty. Masindi and Hoima districts were each allocated 10 kilometres for the same project.

The Purongo Town Council Chairperson, Ben Okot revealed in an interview with this reporter that about 120 community members have mobilised themselves and cleared the bush in the last one week, thus earning some money.

He has however expressed concern that wild animals escaping from the game park are responsible for causing human and destruction of crops, but was hopeful the electric fence project will stop the human-wildlife conflict.

He noted that two people were killed by elephants from August 2023 and March 2024 as several acres of crops, and homes in the town council were destroyed by the wild beasts, especially elephants.

Victims of animal attacks speak out

One of the affected residents, Paska Lanyero from Lyec Cam Village in Purongo Town Council revealed in an interview with this reporter that an elephant on March 3, 2024, killed her 37-year-old son Walter Opio who she still mourns.

Opio is said to have been attached by the wild beast as at around 8: 00 pm at Para Primary School as he was returning home from Purongo Trading Centre.

Lanyero noted that since 2023, the elephants have also destroyed several crops which include 7 acres of rice and 6 acres of maize, making her to incur further losses.

Relatives and friends continue to mourn the late Walter Opiyo who was killed by an elephant recently. He was buried at his home at Lyec Cam Village in Purongo Town Council (Photo by Simon Wokorach).

“I borrowed Shs 4.5 million and invested in farming but now I have to sell land to pay the loan because all the crops were destroyed by the elephants,” Lanyero said in a recent interview.

One other resident Justine Kitara equally noted that he lost one acre of rice and one acre of maize to marauding elephants in 2023 but now hopes that the electric fence will save them from such attacks.

“We have filed our complaints to the Uganda Wildlife Authority for compensation but they haven’t communicated to us since last year” Kitara further explained.

But Emmanuel Orach, Nwoya district LCV Chairperson has commended the government for considering installation of electric fences in the hotspots around the game park.

He said a total of 600 poles have already been delivered to the construction site while all the fences have already been procured pending installation.

He further urged UWA to expedite compensation processes after four people were killed by the elephants that also destroyed several acres of crops, and homes.

UWA’s position on the compensation of victims

Responding to the grievances, Wilson Kagoro, the Chief Warden Murchison Falls National Park described the incidences as unfortunate but noted that processes are ongoing to compensate the affected people and families.

“If a person being killed by the animal, we shall pay Shs 20 million but for permanent deformation, the compensation is Shs 15mln and Shs 700,000 will be awarded to minor incidences,” Kagoro disclosed.

The Uganda Wildlife Compensation Regulation Scheme of 2022 provides for financing of claims for injuries, deaths of person or livestock or damage of property by wild animal in outside protected areas.

Regulation provides that a person who suffers from incident giving rise to the claims must report to the relevant authority within 72 hours while the matter has to be investigated within a period of 12 hours.

In May 2022 from Masindi Hotel while handing over Shs 2.93 billion of revenue share to the districts neighboring Murchison Falls National Park, the government committed for compensating victims.

The Executive Director UWA, Sam Mwandha announced that the government had earmarked Shs 800mln for compensating the victims of wildlife attacks in the entire country.

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