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Four Suspected Poachers Disappear In Murchison Falls National Park

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Anaka Sub-County LC III Chairperson, Morris Kakanyero Opiyo told URN in an interview Wednesday that initially, five men entered the park on a hunting trip. He however says that one of them escaped during an encounter with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) rangers before alerting local leaders about his colleagues three days later.
A section of Murchison Falls National Park.

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Four suspected poachers from Nwoya district are feared dead following their mysterious disappearance inside Murchison Falls National Park. The quartet reportedly went missing more than two weeks ago after illegally entering the National Park on July 11 to poach animals.

Local leaders identify the missing poachers as Geoffrey Ojok 28, Goodwill Ojok 42, Bosco Ocaya 32, and Francis Komakech 29, all residents of Agung village in Anaka Sub-county. Uganda Radio Network has since established that the missing men entered about five Kilometers deep inside the National Park from Anaka Sub-county where they had set up their snares and a camp.

Anaka Sub-County LC III Chairperson, Morris Kakanyero Opiyo told URN in an interview Wednesday that initially, five men entered the park on a hunting trip. He however says that one of them escaped during an encounter with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) rangers before alerting local leaders about his colleagues three days later.

Narrating the accounts of the escapee, Opiyo said that the men had successfully retrieved a kob from their snare during their hunting expedition when armed UWA rangers intercepted them on their way back to their camp. 

Opiyo says that the escapee revealed that while he remained behind to dry the kob’s hide, his four accomplices who were ahead of him by about 100 meters were intercepted by UWA rangers and held at gunpoint.  He explains that the men fled from the scene when the rangers fired at them twice.

Luo

//cue in: “Ma gu cito…

Cue out:…gibaye ricac aryo.”//

translation “…They went and found an animal trapped in their snare, it was a Kob and they skinned it and while returning to the camp, four were in front and they entered the camp while another remained behind to dry the Kob’s hide. However, when he raised his head, he was about 100 meters from their camp and saw the four under gunpoint, he started running and they also fired two shots at him…” URN also understands that locals accompanied by their leaders made impromptu visits to all detention facilities of UWA in Nwoya, Buliisa, and Kiryandongo districts on Thursday last week in search of the missing men but to no avail.

Another search was reportedly conducted inside the National Park jointly with Police, UWA, and Nwoya District leader to trace their whereabouts. Opiyo, says the search, which was abandoned due to time factor, yielded a clue as a blood-stained jacket belonging to one of the missing men, Geoffrey Okot was discovered.

He now suspects that UWA rangers could have had a hand in the disappearance of the suspected poachers since the incident happened just four kilometers from the UWA outpost of Ayago three. Opiyo has tasked UWA to be considerate and hand over the bodies of the missing men in case their personnel executed them.

Luo

//cue in: “wan ma calo…

Cue out:…wan wa nong.”//

Translation “…As leaders, we know that it’s illegal to access the National Park whether to harvest traditional medicine or firewood, we don’t condone what our children did because it’s illegal, but it’s also illegal to take away someone’s life after finding them inside the Park. If you arrest them, you leave it for the court to judge them, our prayers are that if our children are in their hands and they are hiding the truth, they should disclose it to us..,” James Lalobo, a brother to Goodwill Ojok, one of the missing men, says that the accounts of the escape show that the quartet was executed by UWA rangers. He says there was no reason in denying the families the bodies of their sons for decent burial, adding that killings of suspected poachers in the area had become a common happening.

“All we want are the bodies of our brothers, let them hand them over to us for burial. We also demand that the people who killed them be prosecuted, they are known because they were seen,” he told URN in an interview Wednesday.

Christopher Omara, the Nwoya Resident District Commissioner told URN in an interview that the matter was being investigated to ascertain what caused the poacher's disappearance. Wilson Kagoro, the Warden in charge of community conservation in Murchison Falls National Park, says that they got complaints on the matter but can't account for persons who didn't enter the Park legally.

He says they instead referred the complainants to the Police, adding that last week they jointly conducted a search where the quartet is alleged to have disappeared from but didnt find any trace. Kagoro says there have also been cases of locals in the area killing one another over land wrangles before turning around to blame UWA.

He wants the escapee handed to them for further interrogation. This is not the first time locals have accused UWA of killing suspected poachers inside the National Park. In Anaka Sub-county alone, local leaders say seven other people have disappeared inside the park in the recent past without a trace, bringing the total number of people missing after entering the Park to 11.

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