Four people arrested for poisoning six lions in Uganda

Lions at nature park, photo: Leonard von Bibra on Unsplash
Lions at nature park, photo: Leonard von Bibra on Unsplash

Ugandan police arrested four men in connection with six lions who were found dead and mutilated in Queen Elizabeth National Park. They were probably poisoned.

On Tuesday, the four suspected poachers led officers to a location where the decapitated heads of four lions and fifteen legs were found.

Bottles of poison, spears, a machete, a hunting net and a jerry can with lion fat oil were found hidden in a banana plantation, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said in a statement.

“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 UWA said.

The six lions had been found dead in the park on Friday, with most of their body parts missing and surrounded by dead vultures, suggesting poison was at play.

In April 2018, the carcasses of eleven lions were found scattered in the same park. Successful prosecutions of poachers are rare in Uganda.

A wildlife crime expert based in East Africa told AFP that senior members of lucrative transnational wildlife trafficking gangs often bribe their way out of trouble, leaving only low-level offenders to face court.

Lion bones are often sent to Asia, in particular Vietnam and China, where they are used to make bone wine or other traditional medicine.

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