Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) team at Kibale National Park received information from the District Police Commander ( DPC)of Kagadi in western Uganda, regarding a lion in Kobushera village that had killed a number of livestock and was confirmed to have been seen by a number of people.
According to a Press Release by Bashir Hangi, UWA Communications Manager, UWA staff at the Muhoro satellite outpost got in touch with the DPC at midday and went with him and other police officers to Rwabaragi village/parish, Mpeefu Sub County, Kagadi District where the lion was last sighted about 30KM from Muhoro Town Council. Their objective was to assess the situation with a view of capturing the lion and translocating it to a protected area.
Upon reaching the area, they found a crowd of communities who were already searching for the lion with all sorts of tools including machetes, spears, and big sticks because it had already injured three people in the area.
The lion was already stressed and enraged by the presence and noise of a huge crowd that was following the lion with the intention to kill it. Communities were asked to give way and let UWA staff and police handle the problem animal together with four community members, but instead more and more crowds gathered due to the noise and alarm that was being raised. The search team was shortly joined by Uganda Peoples Defence (UPDF) soldiers commanded by one Lt. ColLubega James of first division Kyeterekera UPDF Battalion in Kagadi who took over command of the operation.
One UPDF soldier Cpl Amodoi Moses sighted the lion and tried to shoot it but it jumped on him seriously injuring him in the process. Another UPDF soldier nearby shot the lion dead to save his colleague.
Immediately the lion was shot dead, communities that were in pursuit of the lion quickly skinned it and in a bizarre twist shared the meat. UWA staff’s pleas to handle the carcass fell on deaf ears and they were overpowered by the crowd. They only managed to secure the skin and the head from the carcass which was taken to the police for record purposes and further investigations.
It is not clear why the meat was shared as eating lion flesh is unheard of, however, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) an organization that supports conservation in Uganda and in the Albertine Graben, lions face enormous threats, including retaliatory killing in response to livestock depredation, poaching for their body parts such as teeth, tails and fat for cultural and traditional practices and possibly for illegal trade. These parts are used as a source of medicine by traditional practitioners and are treated as a source of power, charm, and luck by communities for businesses and wealth acquisition.
The UWA statement ends,” We regret the incident in which this stray male lion lost its life and extend our sympathies to the communities injured by the lion during the hunt and those who lost their domestic animals to the lion whose origin is yet to be ascertained. UWA will support the injured with medical care. We advise the public to desist from attacking problem animals and instead report such cases to UWA toll-free line 0800100960. Our problem animal capture unit is always on standby to handle such situations”.