ENVIRONMENT

Forest elephant found dead near depleted Bugoma Forest

The elephant carcass was found on Saturday morning (PHOTO /Courtesy)

HOIMA —A forest elephant has been found dead at the depleted side of Bugoma Forest— with conservationists suspecting that it got stuck in the mud near a river and died.

Uganda is home to both Forest and Savannah elephants.

Joshua Mutale, a programmes officer at a Hoima based conservation organization Water & Environment Media Network Uganda (WEMNET) told UG Standard that the elephant whose carcass was found on Saturday morning was in search of a new sanctuary—running away from Bugoma Forest over increased human activities by encroacher, citing Hoima Sugar.

He said that increased human activities in and around Bugoma Forest are making the forest elephants seek alternative paths from their known, usual paths and in the process get into mud traps.

“We strongly believe that this elephant met its death in the process of searching for a much safer place after it’s original home was interefered with by the increased illegal Human activity in Bugoma forest by Hoima Sugar,” he said.

He added that elephants are not known to move aimlessly.

“They often use particular routes, one wonders why an elephant would get stuck in a route it has often used,” Mitala added.

He urged the leaders convert Bugoma Forest into a National Park to avoid such occurrences.

“Converting Bugoma into a National Park can earn Uganda trillions of shillings and also create millions of jobs as opposed to the damage caused by encroachers,” Mitala said.

A spokesperson of Uganda Wildlife Authority Bashir Hangi told reporters that both UWA and National Forestry Authority have started investigating the incident.

The Bugoma reserve, which covers 41,144 hectares, is the largest remaining block of natural tropical forest along the Albertine Rift Valley and adjacent to Budongo Forest and Semuliki National Park.

It plays an enormous role in preserving wildlife migratory corridors.

It is home to 23 species of animals, including an estimated 550 highly endangered chimpanzees, Ugandan mangabeys (an endemic primate), 225 species of birds and 260 species of trees.

According to the survey by the ministry of tourism and antiquities in 2019, Bugoma, which lies about 250km north-west of the capital, Kampala, is due to have its status upgraded from a reserve to a national park, which would put it under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Forest have shrunk from 24% of Uganda’s total land area in 1990 to 9% in 2015, because of land disputes and deforestation, according to State of Uganda’s Forestry report.

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