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Death of lions may affect park visits - Sam Mwandha, UWA executive director
Communities living in and around Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda risk eviction if it is ascertained that they were responsible for killing 11 lions this week

Commonly referred to as the king of the jungle, the lion is one of the most endangered species whose population is fast diminishing. This week, the Uganda wildlife authority was taken aback with the discovery that eleven lions, part of a bigger pride, were dead. The carcasses were discovered in Hamukungu fishing village within the Queen Elizabeth National park in Kasese district. It is suspected that the Lions were poisoned by people in the community.

The authority says these deaths have an impact on the economy.

Each of the lions was valued at about 14,000 US dollars, which is approximately 50 million Uganda shillings.

Tourism contributes to about 10 percent of Uganda’s Gross Domestic product and the death of the eleven lions has a direct effect on the sector because over 80% of the tourists coming into the country are interested in tracking lions.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority gives back a percentage of its revenue to the communities living in the national parks, as a way of improving the sense of direct stake holding in the parks. Already, districts are earning hundreds of millions of shilling from UWA under this partnership.

It is estimated that there are 400 lions in the Uganda’s national parks and Queen Elizabeth alone harbors only about 100 of this category of big cats.

The Minister of Tourism Ephraim Kamuntu told the community in Hamukungu fishing village, an enclave in the park, that there will be repercussions if it discovered that they were responsible for the deaths of the lions. 

In Uganda lions can be found in Queen Elizabeth, Murchison falls and Kidepo national parks. Semliki wildlife reserve also harbors a number of them. A few years ago it was reported that the population in Mburo National park was extinct but a few immigrant cats had been spotted in the area.