Armed poachers have shot dead a a Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)ranger on duty in Kidepo Valley Conservation Area. The ranger has been identified as Pte. Charles Okawa.
According to the statement by UWA, the incident happened on Monday evening while Okawa and eleven colleagues were on patrol in the park and responded to gun shots between the Lolupe and Narus.
UWA says the gun shots led to a heavy exchange of gunfire between the rangers and the poachers, during which Okawa was shot dead by the enemy.
“Unfortunately, he was shot dead by enemy during the exchange. His colleague was injured and is receiving treatment from Yotkom medical hospital in Kitgum town,” UWA said in a statement.
The institution further said that one poacher was put out of action and a gun recovered while three others fled.
Commenting on the sad news, UWA executive director, Sam Mwandha said it was unfortunate to lose people like Okawa who are protecting the country’s wildlife heritage from armed groups.
“This is a big loss to UWA. We have registered a tremendous increment in the population of key wildlife species because of dedicated staff like Okawa. Losing him is saddening,” Mwandha said.
The UWA boss added that the deceased’s bravery to counter armed poachers shows his commitment to conservation.
”He put his life on the line so that our wildlife can be safe,” he said.
Mwandha further noted that Okawa’s death and others who have died at the hands of armed poachers shows the hostile environment which they operate to protect and conserve Uganda’s wildlife heritage.
Until his death, Okawa had served UWA for 14 years, having joined the institution on April 10, 2008 as a private ranger and posted to Kidepo Valley Conservation Area.