Thursday, June 14, 2012

Uganda: Crocodile attacks on the rise

Okay - inland lakes, not oceans, but of interest nevertheless. It's the crocs that will be destroyed, of course.

The Africa Report: Uganda: Crocodile attacks on the rise

In the past year alone, more than 100 people have been mauled to death by the reptiles, but environmentalists say the number might be higher as some cases went undocumented.

"Although some cases are reported to police and the press, some in remote places like here are not reported at all," said a local leader, Nelson Ogala of Mayuge District, one of the most affected areas.

It is estimated that at least one person is killed or maimed every two to three days across the country.

The latest victim, being Perigio Masika, a 36 year-old mother of 4, who last Wednesday was dragged into Lake Edward in western Uganda and killed by a crocodile.

Masika had gone to draw water.

Village councillor, Eriya Mwoghwa confirmed the crocodile attack but blamed Uganda Wildlife Authority for failing to cage watering points as a means of safeguarding residents and their livestock.

Uganda Wildlife Authority spokesperson, Lillian Nsubuga attributes the rampant incidents of crocodile attacks to the destruction of their habitats by humans and competition for lake resources by people and crocodiles.

"When wild animals' habitual environment is destroyed, wildlife ends up targeting soft targets. In case of crocodiles they no longer get enough fish to feed on. The fish population has been decimated due to over fishing, so when they fail to get fish they attack human beings," Nsubuga said.

The fisheries department in Uganda has warned fishermen against catching pre-mature fish, as this led to their depletion. But on the other hand a number of people are resorting to fishing further straining the dwindling fish populations.

Nsubuga said the destruction of wetlands had seen people fetching water directly from the lakes, hence becoming easy prey for crocodiles.

"Due to increasing human population, wetlands were destroyed for settlement. The wetlands used to act as buffers between lakes and villages. People used to fetch water from wetlands but now they get it directly from the lake, hence endangering their lives," she added.

In eastern district of Namayingo, at Masoli landing site of Lake Victoria, several fishermen were killed in just one month.

The residents have appealed to the government to come to their rescue before more deaths are recorded.

The wildlife authority has on the other hand reacted by hunting the killer reptiles.

In the district of Mayuge, also on the shores of Lake Victoria, a crocodile believed to have killed four people was put down.

The acting executive director of the wild life authority, Andrew Seguya has since cautioned people living on lake shores and river banks against encroaching and destroying the forest, as this had caused a clash between people and wildlife.

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