Four people arrested in Uganda on suspicion of poisoning lions

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Four people arrested in Uganda on suspicion of poisoning lions


KAMPALA, UGANDA – Ugandan police on Tuesday seized the mutilated remains of several lions from suspected wildlife traffickers believed to be responsible for poisoning six big cats in a world-famous national park last week.
Four men arrested late Monday in connection with the poaching incident in Queen Elizabeth National Park led officers to a location where the decapitated heads of four lions and other body parts were hidden.

Bottles of poison, spears, a machete, a hunting net and a two-liter (3.6 pint) can of lion’s fat oil were found hidden in the garden of one of the suspects’ homes, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said in a statement.

“We assure the public that we will continue to strengthen protection for lions and other wildlife in Uganda and continue this case until justice for the dead lions is served,” said UWA communications officer Bashir. Hangi in a statement.

“Our national parks remain safe and attractive to visitors and we still have lions in Queen Elizabeth and other parks. ”

The UWA announced on Saturday that six lions were found dead in the park with most of their body parts missing and surrounded by dead vultures – a find indicating poison was involved.

The grim discovery brought to 22 the number of lions killed by suspected poisoning since 2010 in Queen Elizabeth, one of Uganda’s best-known national parks, where big cats are known for their unusual ability to climb trees.

Despite potential life sentences in Uganda for poachers found in the animal parts trade, successful prosecutions are rare.

An East African-based wildlife crime expert told AFP that high-level members of lucrative transnational unions often bribe to get out of trouble, leaving only low-level offenders in front of the law. courts.

Lion bones are often sent to Asia – especially Vietnam and China – where they are used to make wine that consumers believe has magical powers.

“This case is unusual because the heads have been removed, but in wildlife trafficking, as in any other industry, the demand for the product keeps growing and changing,” the expert said.

Queen Elizabeth shares a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its famous Virunga National Park, a habitat for rare mountain gorillas, where armed groups are said to be operating.

Tourism is one of the main sources of foreign exchange in Uganda, contributing nearly 10% of GDP and 23% of total foreign exports, according to the UWA.

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