Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has successfully conducted an operation in which they rescued three male lions in Kiyenge village, Kabirizi Parish, Lake Katwe Sub-county, Kasese District.
The operation was aimed at capturing the lions that had strayed outside Queen Elizabeth National Park and return them to the park in a bid to stop them from causing any danger to members of the public and the neighboring communities.
According to UWA, the lions were fitted in 2018 with a satellite collar and Hip with a Very High Frequency (VHF) in a bid to track their movement and also to address the lion – human conflict that is rife at the interface and it is what was used to trace them.
“The satellite collars take fixes every two hours and enable our teams to know at any one day where the lions are moving,” UWA said in a statement.
“The lions were lured with a bait of buffalo legs and recorded sounds of prey animals including warthogs, hyenas and buffalo calf were played. These calls lured out the lions to the set bait from where a darting vehicle was positioned nearby”
The rescue team was comprised of UWA rangers, staff of Uganda Carnivore program (UCP) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who tracked the lions using the VHF signals to know their exact location.
The three male lions arrived at the stage and struggled to take off the bait that was securely fastened.
Veterinary doctors already stationed in area darted the three lions (application of anesthesia using special guns called dart guns) at intervals of ten minutes and the sleeping lions were loaded and transported back to the national park under the close watch of our veterinary doctors who kept monitoring vital signs throughout the journey to ensure the eyes were closed, the lions were breathing and well positioned.
The lions were later on Friday released at Kasenyi plains, a distance of around 20km away, from their natural area.
The UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandha commended the rescue team for commitment, professionalism and hard work.
“This is the true conservation spirit; we have conservation heroes who put their lives at risk to save wildlife and also protect the communities,”Mwandha said.
He said UWA will continue to embrace technology which enables quicker tracking of animals for purposes of monitoring the movements so that they can be easily prevented from going outside the parks and disturb the communities.
Mwandha added that with increased use of technology, such operations will continue being undertaken as one of the ways of minimizing human wildlife conflicts.