The Uganda Wildlife Authority has placed a shs10 million bounty on the unknown people who are suspected to have killed six lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Six lions were on Friday found dead after suspected poisoning in the Ishasha sector in Southwestern Uganda.
However, 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.
“Following the death of six lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Management of Uganda Wildlife Authority has put up a reward of shs10 million to anybody with information that will lead to the arrest and successful prosecution of the people behind the heinous act,” UWA said in a statement .
The government charged with conservation, management and regulation of the country’s wildlife resources assured that they put in place efforts to ensure those who provide the information remain confidential.
The Friday incident saw carcasses of lions discovered by UWA rangers with most of their body parts including heads and paws cut off and taken by assailants.
“Eight dead vultures were also found at the scene which points to possible poisoning of the lions by unknown people,” UWA spokesperson, Bashir Hangi said in a statement.
In 2018, a similar incident happened in the same park where 11 lions were found dead after being poisoned by locals after killing their cattle but the latest incident is quite different since it involved poaching after the animal parts including the heads and paws were taken.
Uganda Wildlife Authority said they can’t rule out illegal wildlife trafficking since some of the body parts are missing.
Hangi said investigations will reveal the circumstances under which the animals were killed and if by poison, the kind of poison used.
Whereas in past incidents the skins of the lions were cut off, this time round, in a rare scene, the head and paws were cut off, something which might be pointing to witchcraft.
However, all these are assumptions that UWA together with police in Kanungu will be investigating to find out the truth behind the incident.
The Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park where the latest incident happened is known to harbor tree-climbing lions.
Lions climb in Kidepo and Murchison Falls National Parks but the sight is more regular in Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth.
Tree climbing lions are a rare species of animals and the animals in Ishasha bring in a number of tourists specifically to marvel at them.
According to National Geographic, these lions have a habit of climbing and hanging out in the spreading branches of candelabra trees.
“This unusual behavior has drawn visitors to the park eager to watch big cat acrobatics. Most lions don’t climb trees, although another pride in the park is a crowd-pleaser for climbing fig-trees, and other tree-climbing lions have also been spotted in South Africa,” National Geographic says of the tree-climbing lions.
Africa has two popular lion climbing populations Manyara in Tanzania and Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth.
Tourism plays a big role as a foreign exchange earner to the country, contributing 10% of the GDP and 23% of the total foreign exports.
“Nature tourism has been contributing $1.6 billion to the economy and also contributes to the wellbeing of the communities surrounding the wildlife-protected areas. Tourism plays a critical role in improving the livelihoods of communities and in the last five years,shs4.5 billion has been shared with communities neighboring Queen Elizabeth National Park,” UWA said over the weekend.