KASESE – Residents of Kasenyi fishing village at Queen Elizabeth national park are grieving after a leopard attacked and killed a one and a half year-old baby at Kasenyi landing site, Wednesday evening.
One of the Kasenyi residents, John Sibukere, who claimed to have been at the scene of the incident when the tragedy happened said that the killer leopard could have been hiding in an abandoned house, from which it had earlier killed and mauled a goat.
“It went wild after locals attempted to engage it.” Sibukere said, adding that it fled the scene as residents were calling UWA staff.
“Yes it is true but I am still waiting for a detailed report from my field staff in the area.” said the Park’s Chief Warden, Edward Esalu, yesterday.
The park partly lies in Lake Katwe sub-county of Kasese district.
The sub-county LC III chairperson, Cyrus Baluku, said on phone that it all started when the leopard raided the landing site Wednesday evening before killing the kid, who had been left in the house under the care of its siblings.
“I strongly advise residents, especially in the fishing villages, to guard against letting their children out of doors after 7:00 pm and to ensure they are in the care of an adult to minimise such unfortunate incidents.” he said.
He said that the Wednesday evening incident was one of the several attacks by wild animals from the Park, revealing that recently, buffaloes have killed two residents in the area.
One of the long-standing complaints of the communities living along Queen Elizabeth National Park has been regular raids on their farms and on residents, often costing human lives.
They have demanded compensation, which UWA can only effect after the law, which is currently being processed, is enacted.
Two new outposts
Wednesday’s incident occurred two days to the opening of two new ranger outposts in the Park.
According to Esalu, the Japanese Ambassador, Kazuaki Moriku, will officiate at the opening of the outposts, called Katore and Lion’s Day.
Esalu said the Japanese government had injected USD 50,000 (about sh184.5m) into their construction through the Uganda Conservation Foundation, an NGO that supports conservation in the country.
“The facilities are aimed at boosting staff morale by providing them accommodation.” he said yesterday.
11 lions poisoned
The leopard comes a year after 11 lions that included, cabs and their parents, were found dead on the outskirts of Hamukungu, fishing village in the same sub-county in the Park.
It’s alleged that the lions were reportedly poisoned.
The incident sparked off local and international grief as various governments and conservationists called for tough measures against the perpetrators, who have never been traced to date.
Addressing Hanukungu residents, Tourism, Wildlife and National Antiquities minister, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, called for a moment of silence in memory of the fallen lions, said to be one of the big tourism income earners for Uganda.
Earlier, President Yoweri Museveni had issued a stern warning to poachers and pastoralists against poisoning the lions.
That was in his speech read for him by Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda during last year’s UN World Wildlife Day national celebrations held in March at Nyakasanga Stadium, Kasese Municipality.
The president then compared poachers to terrorists.