A joint security team of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), the Police and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has arrested a group of four men who allegedly killed six lions in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Six lions were found dead on Friday last week and investigations linked the deaths to poisoning in the Ishasha part of the National Park located in Kanungu District in Southwestern Uganda.
On Monday, UWA announced they had placed a Shs. 10 million bounty for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the killers of the treasured animals, but according to the UWA spokesperson, Bashir Hangi, the four men were arrested on Monday night after a joint operation mounted at Kyenyabutongo village, Rusoroza Parish, Kihihi Sub County, Kanungu District.
The suspects identified as Ampurira Brian 26, Tumuhire Vincent, 49, Aliyo Robert 40 years and Miliango Davi 68 were detained after confessing to the criminal act.
“Today (Tuesday) at daybreak, the suspects took the security team to a location where three heads of lions were found hidden in a tree and the fourth one was buried with 15 legs under the same tree. The suspects said they dropped one leg in the park. They admitted participating in the killing of lions.”
According to the UWA spokesperson, three bottles containing a poisonous chemical identified as Furadan (one of the most toxic carbamate pesticides) and a two-litre jerrycan of lion fat oil were recovered from a banana plantation nearby.
“Two spears, one panga and one hunting net were found hidden in a garden at the home of Tumuhire Vincent. The suspects will any time from now be arraigned in courts of law.”
“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. We assure the public that we shall continue to strengthen the protection of lions and other wildlife in Uganda and will pursue this case until justice for the dead lions is served.”
The UWA Act stipulates that a person convicted of offences relating to protected species that are prescribed as extinct in the wild, critically endangered or endangered, shall be liable to life imprisonment or to a fine not exceeding 10,000 currency points or both.
One currency point is equivalent to 20,000 and in this case, if convicted the suspects may also be fined to shs200 million.
Lions are classified as vulnerable or critically endangered species and the four suspects may face life imprisonment if convicted of the charges