Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has rescued three male lions in Kiyenge village, Kabirizi Parish, Lake Katwe Sub-county, Kasese District.
This week’s 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, officials said on Saturday.
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 satellite collars take fixes every two hours and enable our teams to know at any one day where the lions are moving.
The rescue team was comprised of UWA rangers, staff of Uganda Carnivore program (UCP) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who tracked the lions using the VHF signals to know their exact location.
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.
All the three big male lions arrived at the stage and struggled to take off the bait that was securely fastened.
Veterinary doctors already stationed in area darted the three lions (application of anaesthesia using special guns called dart guns) at intervals of ten minutes and the sleeping lions were loaded and transported back to the national park under the close watch of our veterinary doctors who kept monitoring vital signs throughout the journey to ensure the eyes were closed, the lions were breathing and well positioned.
The lions were released on Friday at Kasenyi plains, a distance of around 20km away, from their natural area.
The Executive Director UWA Mr. 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 Mr. Mwandha.
Mr. Mwandha said 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 said with increased use of technology, such operations will continue being undertaken as one of the ways of minimising Human Wildlife Conflicts.
UWA currently manages 10 National Parks and 12 Wildlife Reserves and provides technical guidance to the management of 5 Community Wildlife Areas and 13 Wildlife Sanctuaries.