Police in Bukwo is searching for errant residents suspected to have taken part in the killing by hacking to pieces, a Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) ranger attached to Mount Elgon National Park.
The incident happened over the weekend at Kapkoros Village, Bukwo District, when 38-year-old Samson Dhiwerera, while on duty as game ranger at the national park, pursued a buffalo that had escaped in order to bring it back into the park.
However, members of the community had other ideas, claiming that the Buffalo had eaten their crops. These wanted to have the Buffalo for dinner in revenge.
This prompted the rangers (not necessarily the deceased) to fire live bullets to scatter the residents, but one stray bullet hit 24-year-old Sam Cherop, killing him instantly, and as well infuriating the already charged residents, who trailed ranger Dhiwerera, wrestled him and started hacking him to pieces.
They then landed on the buffalo and chopped it, distributing the meat amongst themselves. Meanwhile, the two bodies; Dhiwerera and Cherop were laid to rest respectively.
The Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Tom Chesol termed the incidents as unfortunate.
“We are looking for the suspects who committed this act, even if the shooting of the boy happened, the law would take its course so that the responsible officer who had committed this outside the pack was going to be liable, but it was very unfortunate,” Chesol said.
Chesol further revealed that the incident has escalated already existing tension between UWA rangers and the community, which has been building over time.
The souring relationship began with community outcry on the conduct of UWA rangers. The community among whom are internally displaced people, accuse UWA rangers of impounding their animals and beating them in attempt to block them from accessing the national park for firewood, herbs among other resources.
The impasse is attributed to a broken link between leaders, UWA officials and the community. It is also attributed to the recent transfers in UWA which saw new staff being posted to man the National park.
Area leaders led by MPs; Chelimo Ruben Paul and Christine Chemutai, have condemned the act urging the community to restrain themselves from confronting UWA officials. The leaders convened a community meeting after which they planned to have a joint meeting with UWA officials to cool the tension.
65 extended families were evicted from the national park in 1999, but they have continued to live in appalling state with no land and no source of livelihood for the past 10 years. The community is now estimated to have multiplied to over 700 people.
Locals on the other hand want government to establish a buffer zone along the park for them to graze their animals.
They also complained about wild animals feasting on their domestic animals. It is reported that 20 goats have so far been reported to have been eaten by hyenas that evade peoples homes in the wee hours of the day.