Three individuals sustained gunshot wounds in an incident involving Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) rangers in Mt. Elgon National Park. The victims were allegedly shot for trespassing and grazing animals inside the park. The injured individuals are Walter Kibet, 15 years old, a resident of Katerit village in Cheboi parish, Amanang sub-county, along with Fred Toskin, 52, and Nicholas Ruto, 33, both residents of Kokorwo village in Chepkwasta Sub-county, Bukwo District.
Jackson Cherop, the LC 3 Chairperson of Amanang Sub County, stated that the UWA rangers encountered the victims while conducting a routine patrol from the Bukwo side of the national park. The victims were allegedly grazing animals within the park, and when the rangers attempted to impound their animals, a confrontation ensued, resulting in the rangers opening fire.
According to Cherop, one of the victims, the young boy, sustained a leg injury, while one of the adults was hit by a bullet from the back, and the other individual suffered injuries to both legs. The victims were swiftly transported to Bukwo Hospital, with the critically injured person being referred to Kapchorwa Hospital.
Cherop emphasized the importance of UWA respecting the rule of law and suggested that the rangers should have apprehended the suspects rather than resorting to gunfire. He also warned citizens against grazing animals within the National Park, as conflicts with the rangers have previously resulted in loss of lives.
Bashir Hangi, the UWA Public Relations Officer, confirmed the incident, explaining that the suspects were injured by stray bullets fired by the rangers as they retreated to avoid potential harm from a mob. Hangi urged the community to abide by the law and emphasized that entry into the National Park is prohibited without authorization from UWA.
However, some residents dispute UWA’s account of the incident, claiming that the victims were not grazing animals inside the park and accusing the rangers of unprofessional conduct. The community living near the national park has faced longstanding conflicts with UWA, primarily related to boundary disputes, which have previously led to multiple fatalities and displacements.