Six lions were found dead with “most of their body parts missing” in one of Uganda’s most popular national parks. Officials believe poachers are to blame.
Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda is home to 95 mammal species, including a small population of tree-climbing Ishasha lions. The unique lions are often seen resting in the trees and tourists come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of them.
On Friday evening, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) found six of the majestic lions butchered – missing their heads and paws.
UWA said, “Given that some of the body parts of the lions are missing, we cannot rule out illegal wildlife trafficking.”
The UWA is “saddened” by the deaths and said an investigation is underway.
UWA Communications Manager Bashir Hangi said, “Eight dead vultures were also found at the scene, which points to the poisoning of the lions by unknown people.”
Sadly, this is not the first time the park’s lions have been targeted. In 2018, 11 lions, including 8 cubs, were found death from a suspected poisoning.
Conservationist are devastated and angry. They have teamed up with local police to find the people responsible and bring them to justice.
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Lions are important to the ecology and economy of Uganda.
“UWA strongly condemns the illegal killing of wildlife because it does not only impact negatively on our tourism as a country, but also revenue generation, which supports conservation and community work in our protected areas,” Hangi said.
The UWA has offered a “UGX 10m bounty for anyone with information that leads to the the arrest and successful prosecution of the people behind the death of six lions in Queen Elizabeth National park.”
Poachers target big cats for their teeth and claws that are used in “luxury products” and traditional Chinese medicine. Lions are listed as “vulnerable” on International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and classified as “critically endangered” in West Africa.
The greatest threats to lions are poaching, trophy hunting, human-lion conflict, and habitat loss. Panthera, a wild cat conservation organization, states “Without adequate protection of lions in Africa’s protected areas against poaching, all other threats will become obsolete as there won’t be any lions left.”
UWA reassures the public that will “continue to strengthen the protection of lions and other wildlife in Uganda.”
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