UWA Signpost Causes Fear of Encroachment in Kitgum

Orom Sub County officials in Kitgum district have expressed fear of possible encroachment in the area by Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA. It stems from a decision by UWA to install a signpost with the inscription; “Karenga Community Wildlife Area” in Tikao Village in Orom Sub-county.

Johnson Acellam Toodera, the Orom Sub-county LC 3 chairperson, says that UWA installed the signpost in Tikao Village in September, which triggered fear among residents of the impending land grabbing by UWA. Orom sub-county is one of the sub-counties that is always invaded by stray elephants from Kidepo Valley National Game Park every year.

According to Toodera, their fears also stem from the fact that the signpost was installed without the knowledge of the sub-county or district authorities. Toodera says that although UWA officials say the signpost indicates that they have an office in the area, the name Kitgum should be used instead of Karenga because the signpost is in Kitgum.

“Our complaint is that the signpost is one of the ways being used to grab our land because the area the signpost is, is not Karenga. There would be no problem if the signpost showed that the area is a detachment for the rangers in Tikao.” 

Margaret Odwar Lamwaka, the Chua East Member of Parliament in Kitgum district, shared the same fear. According to Lamwaka, the writing on the signpost should be changed to clearly indicate that it is an office for handling wildlife issues in the district.  

Kidepo Valley National Game Park lies along six districts of Kitgum Kabongo, Kotido, Karenga, Abim, and Agago. Locals in these districts have always suffered invasions from stray animals such as elephants and buffalos.  

Lamwaka added that there is a need for the Ministry of Tourism to clearly show, which areas are in an animal corridor.  “Ministry of Tourism must come up with a clear map that this is where the animal corridor stops, but not coming up to my home that it is an animal corridor.  If they come with a map showing the area, then we shall ask them when they acquired it,” Lamwaka said.  

Bashir Hangi, the UWA spokesperson said the signpost was erected in the area where the authority offers technical guidance on wildlife. He explained that such signposts are in all the districts where UWA offers wildlife management, adding that the authority cannot make signposts in the name of all these districts.   

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