Kanungu, Uganda – Police on Tuesday seized the mutilated remains from suspected wildlife traffickers believed responsible for last week’s poisoning of six lions in Ishasha, south west of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Four men arrested late Monday in connection with the poaching incident after a tip off from a concerned citizen, led security officers to a location where the decapitated heads of four lions and other body parts were hidden.
“Ampurira Brian 26 years, Tumuhire Vincent 49 years, Aliyo Robert 40 years and Miliango Davi 68 years were arrested last night during a joint operation mounted by UWA, UPDF and Police in Kyenyabutongo village, Rusoroza Parish, Kihihi Sub County, Kanungu District,” the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said in a statement.
According to UWA, at day break today, “the suspects took the security team to a location where 3 heads of lions were found hidden in a tree and the fourth one was buried with 15 legs under the same tree.”
Speaking to Africa Tembelea, UWA’s communications manager Bashir Hangi revealed that three bottles containing a chemical commonly known as Furadan, spears, a machete, a hunting net and a two-litre canister of lion fat oil were found hidden in the garden of one of the suspects’ homes.
“We applaud the security agencies that joined the operation to hunt the people behind the death of our lions and the leadership of Kanungu district for the support extended to the
security teams,” Hangi said, adding that, “the suspects will be arraigned in the courts of law.”
The arrest of these prime suspects comes just a day after the UWA announced a UGX10 million bounty to help catch whoever was responsible for the ‘gruesome killing’ of these big cats that had most of their body parts missing and surrounded by dead vultures.
The grim discovery took to 22 the number of lions killed by suspected poisoning since 2010 in Queen Elizabeth national park, that borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its famous Virunga National Park, a habitat for rare mountain gorillas.
Despite potential life sentences in Uganda for poachers found trading in animal parts, Africa Tembelea understands that successful prosecutions are rare. This is because senior members of lucrative transnational syndicates often bribe their way out of trouble, leaving only low-level offenders to face court.
Mr. Hangi, however has reassured the public that the UWA shall not only continue to strengthen the protection of lions and other wildlife in Uganda, but will also pursue this case to its logical conclusion.
According to Hangi, Uganda’s national parks remain safe and attractive to visitors and that the country still has lions in Queen Elizabeth and other parks.