A city lawyer has expressed intent to sue the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) over the death of 11 lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kasese district recently.
At the start of this month, three adult lionesses and eight cubs were confirmed dead by UWA at Hamkungu fishing village in Kasese by suspected poison laced in meat and fed to the lions.
According to Francis Niwagaba, a lawyer working with Francis Niwagaba and company advocates, UWA should be put to task to explain how the lions that contribute to the country’s revenues died in a gazette national park.
“UWA is expected to protect such a rare and endangered species like the lions but they failed on this duty. They ought to explain how the death occurred,” Niwagaba told journalists in Kampala.
Quoting the Uganda Wildlife Act, the lawyer explained that UWA is mandated with ownership of every wild animal and plant existing its wild habitant all over the country for the benefit of the people.
Niwagaba said that as a concerned citizen, the authority is mandated to explain what he termed as incompetence on their side that led to the poisoning of the animals within a gazetted national park.
“It beats my understanding for animals to be poisoned inside a national park. Why should we have people living in a national park, which is a place for wild animals to live.”
He added, “We will be seeking for orders declaring Uganda Wildlife Authority incompetent on performing its mandate leading to loss of huge sums of money.”
A World Conservation Society assessment report in 2006 showed that each individual lion in Queen Elizabeth National Park generated about $13,500 USD (Shs48m) per year for the national economy in terms of the revenue it brought into the country.
According to Niwagaba, the country earned over $1.2 billion( over shs2 trillion) from the tourism sector part of which from lions adding that government ought to have done something to protect the endangered species.
“By UWA coming out to address a press conference to tell us about the dead lions is only comparable to NSSF telling public servants and those saving with them that all their savings have been stolen. We can just look on our livelihood becomes extinct.”
“As a concerned citizen, I am dissatisfied by the manner in which UWA, as my trustee for protection of national parks and lions failed on its mandate leading to poisoning and killing of the animals inside a national park,” he noted.
Asked whether he would seek for damages from court, Niwagaba sai as a concerned citizen, he would be seeking for declaration by court that Uganda Wildlife Authority is incompetent and has failed on its mandate of protecting the rare species of animals.
The commissioner in charge of Wildlife Conservation in the Ministry Of Tourism, Dr Akankwasa Barirega, recently said investigations are underway to find out the circumstances under which the lions were killed, adding that findings would be used to prosecute those behind the cruel act.