Four men have been arrested in connection with the killing of six tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park last week.
The dead lions were discovered at Isasha sector on March 18, 2021 with most of their body parts missing. Eight dead vultures were also found at the scene, something that prompted Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to suspect a possible poisoning of the lions by unknown people.
UWA had earlier on Monday announced that they placed a Shs10 million reward to person with information that will lead to the arrest of the killers of the animals.
According to Bashir Hangi, the UWA spokesperson, a joint operation mounted by UWA, UPDF and Police
in Kyenyabutongo village, Rusoroza Parish, Kihihi Sub County, Kanungu District on Monday night led to the arrest of the four suspects who include Ampurira Brian 26 years, Tumuhire Vincent 49 years, Aliyo Robert 40 years and Miliango Davi 68 years.
These, he says, were arrested following
credible information got on Monday evening about the people suspected to be behind the killing of the lions.
“Today at day break, the suspects took the security team to a location where three heads of lions were found hidden in a tree and the fourth one was buried with fifteen legs under the same tree. The suspects said they dropped one leg in the park,” says Hangi.
“Three bottles containing chemical commonly known as Furadan and a two litter jerry can of
lion fat oil were recovered in a banana plantation. Two spears, one panga and one hunting net were found hidden in a garden at the home of Tumuhire Vincent,” he adds.
Furadan is a very dangerous chemical pesticide and pollutant used by many killers of lions in different parts of Africa especially the livestock farmers who look at lions as threats to their animals.
It is should be noted that after a lion kills its prey, it partially consumes the carcass and may return to it at a later time for an additional meal. If the carcass is discovered by killers between feedings, they often spread Furadan on the carcass. When one or more lions return to feed again (or if vultures or other animals consume parts of the carcass), they become poisoned and die shortly thereafter.
The six lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park could as well have been poisoned in a similar way.
Hangi who applauded the security agencies that joined the operation to hunt the people behind the death of the lions and the leadership of Kanungu district for the support extended to the security teams, now says the suspects will be arraigned in the courts of law.
He further notes that UWA will continue to strengthen the protection of lions and other wildlife in Uganda and as well pursue this case until justice for the dead lions is served.
The UWA mouthpiece adds that the country’s national parks remain safe and attractive to visitors and that there are lions in Queen Elizabeth and other parks.
Ugandan lions are one of the most sought-after animals by tourists due to their because they have a rare culture of climbing trees. Each lion in Uganda raises about USD$ 14,000 (Approx. Shs52million) annually in park fees, according to official figures.