UWA rescues lions from Kasese village

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) successfully conducted an
operation to rescue three male lions that had moved out of Queen Elizabeth National Park and strayed into Kiyenge village in Lake Katwe Sub-county, Kasese district.

The lions reportedly strayed into the villages on New Year’s day, according to UWA’s Communication manager, Bashir Hangi.

The operation was conducted by a joint team of UWA rangers, staff of Uganda Carnivore program (UCP) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who tracked the lions using the Very High Frequency  (VHF) signals to know their exact location.

The lions were fitted with a satellite collar and Hip with a Very High Frequency (VHF) in 2018 to monitor their movement in a bid to address the lion – human conflict that is rife at the interface.

“The operation was aimed at capturing the lions that had strayed outside Queen Elizabeth National Park and translocating them back to park so that they don’t cause any danger to the neighbouring community,” Hangi said.

From the satellite signals, the conservationists were able to know the direction in which the lions are moving.

“The lions were lured with a bait of buffalo legs and recorded sounds of prey animals including warthogs, hyenas and buffalo calf were played. These calls lured out the lions to the set bait from where a darting vehicle was positioned nearby,” Hangi said.

“All the 3 big male lions arrived at the stage and struggled to take off the bait that was securely fastened,” he added.

As they stuggled to take off the bait, veterinary doctors who were already stationed in area darted the three lions before loading them on waiting trucks for transportation back to the park.

UWA rangers loading one of the lions on a truck

They were released at Kasenyi plains, a distance of around 20km away, from their natural area.

UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandha commended the rescue team for
commitment, professionalism and hard work.

“This is the true conservation spirit; we have conservation heroes who put their lives at risk to save wildlife and also protect the communities”, said Mwandha.

Mwandha said that UWA will continue to embrace technology which enables quicker tracking of animals for purposes of monitoring the movements so that they can be easily prevented from going outside the parks and disturb the communities.

He added that with increased use of technology, such operations will continue being undertaken as one of the
ways of minimising Human Wildlife Conflicts.