By Paul Kato
For over three years, the media has been reporting about the massive destruction of forests and wetlands in several parts of the country. Bunyoro sub-region has greatly been affected by this environmentally dangerous practice.
Because of the massive destruction of wild animal habitat areas by residents, there has been an increased rate of human-animal conflicts in the districts that make up Bunyoro sub-region - Kikuube, Hoima, Kagadi, Kakumiro and Kibale.
Unfortunately, residents, investors and government agencies and officials prefer to use animal habitant areas for economic activities like agriculture, charcoal burning, lumbering, sugar cane growing by Hoima Sugar company and oil and gas activities.
The massive destruction of forests and wetlands have led to the migration of wild animals like chimpanzees from their natural habitats. This has created a big competition for land space and food.
Also, many people, especially the vulnerable children between one year to four, have been attacked and injured by these animals; many have lost their lives.
It should be noted that the continuous massive destroying of the forests and wetlands is going to contribute to a big number of people and children being injured and killed by the wild animals.
Worthy to note is that this massive destruction of our natural forests and wetlands is going to result in a prolonged drought, floods, reduction of foreign exchange and climatic change among others.
Therefore, the forests and wetlands need to be protected and conserved by all stakeholders to avoid human-animal conflicts, climatic change and negative impacts on the people’s livelihoods.
Research shows that in Bunyoro region, 20 children have already been attacked and injured by wild animals, at list five have died because of ongoing human-animal conflicts.
Therefore, I call upon all the local leaders right from the grass root levels to the national level to carry out massive sensitization among the local communities, National Environment Management Authority, National Forestry Authority and Environmental Police to put in place new laws that are going to protect forests. People lack information about the importance of forests.
Paul Kato is a research associate at African Institute for Energy Governance
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