New Internationalist

Lions poisoned in protest

December 2007

Angry farmers evicted from Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park in advance of November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting have taken to poisoning wildlife in retaliation, killing hordes of lions and hyenas. Scientists say it will take two decades to reverse the damage done in just 15 months.

According to veterinarian Ludwig Siefert, more than 80 per cent of the park’s hyenas have been killed and all the leopards along the Nyamusagani river have been poisoned. ‘We have also lost at least 11 lions,’ he told local media. Experts say the lion population in the park has decreased from 94 in 1999 to 39 today.

Wilson Okaali of the Basongora Group for Justice and Human Rights said authorities used excessive force in the evictions, and most of the land to which the Government advised the 8,000 displaced to move was already occupied.

In the capital Kampala, police claim to have arrested 600 people on charges of being ‘idle and disorderly’ in efforts to rid the city of ‘undesirables’ ahead of the Summit. Several kiosks and other ‘illegal’ structures were destroyed in the so-called ‘beautification exercise’.

Wairagala Wakabi

This column was published in the December 2007 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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