28 July, 2007

Lions and Other Animals in Danger in Uganda

This is as sad and as bad as it can get. Not only lions, but hyenas and leopards have been killed by poisoning in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda; by Basongora herdsmen. The Basongora were evicted from Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo in March last year. They were allowed to settle temporarily at the edge of the park until a more permanent solution was found. However, the Basongora started penetrating deeper into the park. They are now covering an estimated 300 square kilometre area. At the same time, herdsmen from other parts of the country and even from Tanzania took advantage of the situation, making the number of cattle swell from 10,000 to an estimated 40,000.

It's at Queen Elizabeth National Park, where I first heard the real roar of lions at very close range, in 1978. Lions would wander to as far as the town of Kasese. Even with the war raging on the borders of Uganda and Tanzania then, the lions could still be seen and their roars heard. Especially at nights. Now, they face a present and imminent danger. The question is: how do the Ugandan authorities save the animals and make them secure and safe - while at the same time, ensure that the herdsmen get to graze their cattle. And this has to be addressed now. The sooner the better. Otherwise, who knows; the lions and the other animals now in danger might be totally wiped out. Not for the sake of tourists and earning foreign currency only, Uganda's wildlife have to be protected and preserved. For the sake of Uganda and Ugandans.

Photo from: galenfrysinger.com

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