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Queen Elizabeth registers increasing cases of poaching in lockdown

Queen Elizabeth National Park management has raised a red flag over the park ‘s increased poaching cases since the countrywide lockdown was declared in March this year.

While Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA has stepped up park security and foot patrols after elephants die, many poachers have been arrested since March.

The Chief Warden Queen Elizabeth National Park, Pontus Onzima, says they have reported more poaching cases compared to the pre-lockdown time. Between March and May, over 60 poachers were arrested compared to just 20 in February.

He believes that the lockout caused many people to turn to poach for survival after losing their livelihoods.

Onzima explains that the majority of poachers aim for food for small species of wildlife. He says the animal census scheduled will guide the park authorities on the extent of the damage in the next two years.

Onzima says the park is also seeing a small rise in wildlife numbers, given the increased poaching cases.

Steven Nyaduru, the Queen National Park ‘s Assistant Tourism Warden, claims that the absence of both visitors and field guides means fewer people are available to track animals, which increases their vulnerability.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic had disastrous effects on the industry, including resources that were meant to be channelled to protect wildlife.

Hanan Masereka, a Muhokya resident in Muhokya sub-county states that most people have turned to wildlife for survival because they are financially constrained.

Most people have lived on small jobs around the lakes, he says, but the business has gone down since March.

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