Three people have been arrested for allegedly killing six lions in Queen Elizabeth national park. They include the prime suspect who is being held with two accomplices.
The lions were found dead on Friday evening in Ishasha sector, Kihihi sub-county, Kanungu district. Their heads, feet, tails, hearts and livers had been removed and taken.
Eight vultures that fed on the carcasses of the lions were also found dead.
The lions’ death created a crisis among Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and security in Kanungu district. On Monday, UWA, Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) and police officers led by Hajji Shafique Ssekandi, Kanungu Resident District Commissioner, his Deputy Gad Ahimbisibwe Rugaju, Pontious Ezuma, UWA warden for Queen Elizabeth National park launched an operation in Rusoroza parish, Kihihi sub-county to recover the missing parts and push ahead with the investigations.
Ssekandi confirmed to our reporter on Tuesday afternoon that following a tip-off from one of the concerned locals, security officials on Monday night arrested one of the prime suspects. He says that the suspect led security to Tukundane village in Rusoroza parish, Kihihi sub-county few metres away from his home and showed them where he had hidden the parts under the mango tree.
He further explained that security found two of the heads hanging under the mango tree while two together with feet were found buried under the ground in a spear grass bush.
The police officer also says that the prime suspect also led security to two other suspects who were also arrested. He declined to reveal the identities of the suspects arguing that it may jeopardize investigations and efforts to arrest the person who intended to buy the body parts.
He says that the suspects carried body parts of lions to Tumukunde village about 30 kilometres away from Ishasha where they had died from.
He also says that the prime suspect led security to discover a jerrycan full of oil that had been squeezed from half-cooked dead lions’ intestines that they wanted to sell to the buyer together with other parts.
Ssekandi adds that security also conducted a search at the home of another suspect and discovered it.
Gad Ahimbisibwe Rugaaju, Kanungu deputy Resident District Commissioner says that the suspects have been taken to Kanungu police station for interrogation. He says that if the suspects become defiant, they will be transferred to Kampala for further management.
One of the locals who talked to our reporter at the scene described two of the suspects as aged in the 50s and 30’s respectively. The local says that the three suspects are hardened poachers and claimed they had a deal of supplying the body parts at huge amounts of money to a yet to be identified person.