Gulu — The Acholi paramount chief, Rwot David Onen Acana II has promised to mobilise his subjects to kill all elephants that stray from Queen Elizabeth National Park that destroy crops in Acholi sub-region, a plan that has attracted protests from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
He said elephants have been behind the destruction of many farmlands in Nwoya, Amuru, Kitgum and Agago districts which has since reduced his subjects to food beggars.
Rwot Acana made the pronouncement at his palace while delivering his Christmas and New Year message to journalists.
“It is very sad that after months of hard work and sweat, elephants come and destroy all the crops. I am writing a letter to President Museveni and the responsible bodies to notify them of my action that will soon start at any time,” Rwot Acana said.
Speaking to Daily Monitor, Mr Jossy Muhangi, the UWA spokesman said the proposed action by the Acholi paramount chief is illegal and would not solve the problem.
“We are aware of these roaming elephants in Nwoya, Agago, Amuru and other parts of Kitgum. National Park areas are too wide to be covered. We only dug trenches at hot spots. Their [Acholi] planned action is uncalled for,” Mr Muhangi said.
But Rwot Acana insists that Acholi chiefdom would give no time to government to drive back the elephants, considering their earlier cries to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) who keep promising that trenches would be dug around the park boundary to prevent the beasts from accessing residents’ farmlands.
“Acholis never begged for food in the past or went to work on other people’s farms as is the case today. They can’t even afford to support their children in schools or provide family needs since farming as a source of income has been bee affected by elephants,” he said.
Rwot Acana said he is ready to defend his people once they start a mass killing of stray elephants.
“We are aware that it is against the law to kill those elephants, but if we are victimised and prosecuted, we will have saved ourselves from hunger,” Rwot Acana said.
The stray elephants have been roaming Kochgoma, Lii, Purongo and Longulu sub counties in Nwoya district and they have extended to Amuru District where thousands of acres of crop fields have been destroyed.
In East Acholi, Lapono Sub County in Agago District has been the worst hit area.
Mr Muhangi said while Acholis were confined in camps during the two-decade armed insurgency, elephants and other wild animals got their way into such areas and have almost made them sanctuaries.
“We have conservation outposts in all these areas. Instead of killing these animals that are economically benefitting them, residents should engage us and we deploy more wardens and scouts,” Mr Muhangi said.
In September this year, stray elephants from Kidepo National Park destroyed over 400 acres of farmland in Kaket Village Lapono Sub-county, Agago District.