The Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA has started evicting 4,000 people from Bokora-Matheniko game reserve in Kotido district.
The group from various districts of Teso settled in the game reserve in 2014 under the guidance of the local leaders. They engaged in commercial agriculture and also constructed semi-permanent structures on the land.
A team of UWA assisted by police and other security organs on Monday started evicting the group which had encroached on the protected area.
According to Charles Wilfred Okula, the warden Security and Law Enforcement Matheniko- Bokora wildlife reserve, the group will leave the game reserve by the end of the year.
Tom Omongole who has already left the area for Kumi said he was disappointed that they were ordered to leave before harvesting his crops.
“I have nine acres of cassava in the garden. We asked to be allowed to wait for our crops to get ready but to no avail. They handled us like criminals,” said Omongole on phone.
“I am now landless, I had sold my share of land in Kumi in order to acquire a large portion in Kotido and now I have been thrown out without any compensation,” added Lomongole.
However, Okula says that those with crops will return to harvest them later and those who bought the land illegally should follow up from those who sold it to them.
“I encourage them to go back or settle anywhere outside a protected area. They can also go to the containment areas in Opopongo, Kalosarich and Kobebe in Abim, Kotido and Moroto respectively.
The Kidepo Regional Police Commander, Stephen Onencan confirmed the orders by UWA for the community to move out of the protected area. He said police had not yet registered any cases of violence resulting from the eviction.