A joint security team of the UPDF, Police and Uganda Wildlife Authority has arrested a group of four men who allegedly participated in the killing of six lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Six lions were on Friday found dead after suspected poisoning in the Ishasha sector in Southwestern Uganda.
On Monday, UWA announced they had placed a shs10 million bounty for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the killers of the treasured animals.
However, according to the UWA spokesperson, Bashir Hangi, the four men were arrested on Monday night after a joint operation mounted at Kyenyabutongo village, Rusoroza Parish, Kihihi Sub County, Kanungu District
He named the suspects as Ampurira Brian 26, Tumuhire Vincent, 49, Aliyo Robert 40 years and Miliango Davi 68 .
“Today (Tuesday) at day break, the suspects took the security team to a location where three heads of lions were found hidden in a tree and the fourth one was buried with 15 legs under the same tree. The suspects said they dropped one leg in the park. They admitted participating in the killing of lions,”Hangi told the Nile Post in a phone interview.
According to the UWA spokesperson, three bottles containing a poisonous chemical identified as Furadan and a two litre jerrican of lion fat oil were recovered from a banana plantation nearby.
“Two spears, one panga and one hunting net were found hidden in a garden at the home of Tumuhire Vincent. The suspects will any time from now be arraigned in courts of law.”
“We applaud the security agencies that joined the operation to hunt the people behind the death of our lions and the leadership of Kanungu district for the support extended to the security teams. We assure the public that we shall continue to strengthen the protection of lions and other wildlife in Uganda and will pursue this case until justice for the dead lions is served.”
Furadan is a very dangerous chemical pesticide and pollutant which goes by the official title of Carbofuran and manufactured by the FMC Corporation, an American company based in Philadelphia.
It is a highly toxic, granular insecticide-nematicide that is applied to crops to protect them from insects, such as the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines) in the United States. East African farmers also use it on their crops; however, some buyers of Furadan purchase it to kill lions and other animals.
The four suspects will now stare at life imprisonment if convicted of the charges according to the law.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority Act stipulates that a person convicted of offences relating to protected species that are prescribed as extinct in the wild, critically endangered or endangered, shall be liable to life imprisonment or to a fine not exceeding 10,000 currency points or both.
One currency point is equivalent to 20,000 and in this case, if convicted the suspects may also be fined to shs200 million.
Lions are classified as vulnerable or critically endangered species.