Two men were found guilty of murdering six climbing lions in the Queen Elizabeth National Park and were given 8 years and 7 months in prison by the Utilities, Wildlife and Standards Court in Kampala.
Following their conviction on five charges last week, the two—a farmer named Vincent Tumuhirwe and a motorcycle rider named Robert Ariyo—both from Kanungu district—were sentenced on Thursday by the court presided over by Chief Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu.
Three of the charges involve breaking into a protected area without authorization, murdering wild animals and other protected species in a conservation area without authorization, and shooting wild animals without authorization in a wildlife conservation area.
The two men were found guilty by Judge Kamasanyu last week after the prosecution presented evidence from 13 witnesses that established beyond a reasonable doubt that they had illegally entered the Kob Mating Ground of the Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park in the Kanungu district between March 17 and March 19, 2021, hunted and poisoned six tree-climbing lions and ten white vultures.
Ariyo and Tumuhirwe were discovered in possession of four lion heads, fifteen lion legs, one lion tail, and a three-liter jerrican of lion fats without a valid wildlife use permit, the court heard. The lions were discovered dead with some of their body parts removed at Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is a protected region, and the aforementioned illicit actions took place there within a 5.4-kilometer radius.
Kamasanyu stated before their sentencing that crimes are common in this nation and that eleven lions were murdered in 2018 but their perpetrators have not yet been apprehended.
In Uganda, where it is well known that lions are not edible, she continued, it was disgusting and disgusting for the two men to hunt and kill the defenseless lions from a protected location where they were supposed to be secure.
In light of this, she pointed out that the killing was unjustified and that the news of the incident was upsetting not only to Uganda but to the entire world, particularly to the tourists who have been significantly boosting the country’s economy by visiting the park, which is the only one in the country with tree-climbing lions.
With only one lioness remaining and four male lions, Kamasanyu further declared that the lion pride had been restrained, stating that it would be difficult for them to expand and procreate.
This kind of character, in Kamasanyu’s opinion, demonstrates how dangerous the prisoners are and how they are most likely to be nasty to people. I’ve heard you have kids, but given the way you are, there’s a good chance you’ll raise killers, Kamasanyu stated.
As a result, she gave the defendants eight years and seven months in prison for murdering wild animals and failing to obtain permission to safeguard endangered species in a discussion area. She also gave them five years in prison for the first four offenses. The sentences would be served simultaneously, she said.
The Chief Magistrate Kamasanyu had originally sentenced the defendants to 10 years in prison, but she reduced that amount by the time they had already served in detention. She continued by saying that anyone wanting to commit such an infraction should use this as an example.
Lions are one of the leading attractions to safari goers who take guided Uganda tours through various game reserves. These big cats remain in a few Uganda national parks. “Lions alone generated hundreds of millions of shillings in the form of tourist attractions, were ruthlessly and viciously slain” said State Attorney Joan Keko, who last week requested the maximum punishment of life in jail.
The defendants themselves argued for a moderate sentence, citing their status as family men with children to care for and first-time offenders, all of which the court took into account before making its ruling.