The number of armed ivory dealers roaming the Queen Elizabeth national park is increasing, the conservation area manager Nelson Guma has said.
Guma said the increased activity of armed ivory poachers is a threat to the elephants’ survival. Guma says there are just over 3,000 elephants left in the park.
Guma said the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) declared war on poachers who come to shoot elephants in the park.
Guma noted that apart from poachers, the park is under threat from encroachers. He said that the 30,000 people who live around the park often enter its territory in search of firewood and sometimes hunt animals for meat.
Guma made the eyebrow-raising revelations late last week during a UWA end-of-year party at the Queen Elizabeth conservation premises in Rubirizi district.
Inspite of the year’s challenges, Guma said, the park had registered some successes.
The park was recognised, for example, as the best in customer care, hospitality and survey utilization from the web-based Visitor Certification Survey. The park was voted the best destination for family inspiration by the Lonely Planet website.
Joseph Kule Muranga, the Rubirizi Resident District Commissioner (RDC), said he was perturbed to hear that six elephants had been killed. He urged UWA to work more closely with security forces to eliminate the threat of armed poachers.
Kule hailed UWA and the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) for working hard to rid national parks of poachers.