Oyam Residents Seek Ugx 1 Billion Compensation over Elephant Raids

2306 Views Oyam, Uganda

In short
The petition filed through lawyers Mike Abwang Otim of Abwang Otim Company Advocates comes in the wake of repeated wildlife attacks in Oyam district especially along areas bordering Murchison falls National Park. Most affected areas include; Myene, Minakulu, Kamdini and Aber Sub Counties where stray elephants have often destroyed crops, killed and injured residents.

A total of 4,000 residents of Oyam district have petitioned High Court over negligence by Uganda Wildlife Authority which has subjected them to repeated attacks by wild animals. They are demanding for UGX 1 billion as compensation for the lives and plantations lost to wandering animals.

The petition filed through lawyers; Mike Abwang Otim of Abwang Otim Company Advocates comes in the wake of repeated wildlife attacks in Oyam district especially along areas bordering Murchison falls National Park. Most affected areas include; Myene, Minakulu, Kamdini and Aber Sub Counties where stray elephants have often destroyed crops, killed and injured residents.

Available data indicates that a total of 27 people from the affected sub counties have lost lives during such wildlife invasions over the last five years. Three of these died in an attack mounted by stray elephants in Atura village, Loro sub county about five kilometers from the park boundary early this year.

Last week, over 10 acres of plantations were destroyed in Myene Sub County when over 100 elephants strayed from the Park and invaded the area.

In the petition dated 29th September 2014, the victims have threatened a court action against the Attorney General and Uganda Wildlife Authority if their demand is not met within 14 days.

Vincent Oulanyah, the chairperson of the Wildlife Victims Association in Oyam district says they want court to order Wildlife Authority to ensure proper deployment of game rangers along border areas t in order to protect humans from animal invasion.

He explains that o action has been taken over the years despite requests to Uganda Wildlife Authority to support the victims and avert subsequent invasions.

Patrick Ogwal Ojok, an area Councilor says they are already collecting data about all the victims and the suffering they have been exposed to. Ojok adds that the matter has also been brought to the attention of the tourism ministry.

Bosco Ogwal, 57, a resident of Kamdini Sub County says he lost interest in farming since most of his food crops were always destroyed by elephants and has since abandoned the sector. Another victim Hellen Adong says she is no longer able to take her children to school because farming was her major source of income.

Although there is no specific law that caters for victims' compensation, under such circumstances, the residents say they are determine to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion. Some are suggesting that government supports them with income generating activities that will bridge the economic gap.

Tom Okello Obong, the Chief Warder at Murchison Falls National Park they are yet to receive the formal petition but argued that they are doing everything possible to restraining animals from further invasion of the area.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has in the past partnered with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) in the implementation of Tourism for Biodiversity (T4B), a special programme designed to equip community wildlife scouts in areas around Murchison falls conservation area with skills and equipment used in animal management.