A joint security team of the UPDF, Police and Uganda Wildlife Authority -UWA has arrested a group of four men for allegedly poidoning and killing six lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
On Friday, the Criminal Investigations Directorate of police reported that six lions including five female lions and one male were found dead after suspected poisoning in the Ishasha sector Edward gate Kanungu district.
UWA announced a ransom worth UShs10 million for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the suspected killers.
Bashir Hangi, the UWA mouthpiece has said authorities made an operation on Monday night which led to the arrest of the group suspected to be behind the acts.
The suspects identified as: Aliyo Robert 40; Ampurira Brian 26; Malingo Davi 68; and Tumuhire Vincent 49 were arrested at Kyenyabutongo village, Rushoroza Parish, Kihihi Sub County, Kanungu District .
According to Hangi, the suspects upon arrest admitted having committed the acts and they on Tuesday took the security team to a location where they had hidden the heads of the lions
Three of the heads were found hanging in a tree while the fourth was buried with 15 legs under the same tree.
He added that three bottles containing Furadan, a poisonous chemical identified and a two litre jerrican of lion fat oil were recovered from a banana plantation nearby.
“Two spears, one panga and one hunting net were found hidden in a garden at the home of one of the suspects;Tumuhire Vincent.” Hangi said.
He applauded security and district leadership for ttheir efforts to ensure that the culprits are arrested pledging to enhance protection of the wildlife.
“We applaud the security agencies that joined the operation to hunt the people behind the death of our lions and the leadership of Kanungu district for the support extended to the security teams. We assure the public that we shall continue to strengthen the protection of lions and other wildlife in Uganda and will pursue this case until justice for the dead lions is served.
The suspects are now in police custody awaiting to be produced to court.
Earlier on, CID police spokesperson Charles Twiine had intimidated that the suspects risk facing life imprisonment.
According to the UWA Act, a person convicted of offences relating to protected species that are prescribed as extinct in the wild, critically endangered or endangered, shall be liable to life imprisonment or to a fine not exceeding 10,000 currency points or both.
Lions are constitutionally regarded as vulnerable or endangered species therefore the suspects are likely to be imprisoned for life or to pay a fine for their actions.