UGANDA (eTN) – The female elephant, recently risen to fame when pictures were published in the Uganda media about walking along the Katunguru roadside stores, was apparently poisoned and found dead. Local shop keepers are suspected to have had a hand in the elephant killing, robbing tourists of a magnificent attraction, being able to come fairly close to the unsuspecting animal. Named “Mary,” she was raised by Marcel Onen, erstwhile assistant to the founder of the Uganda Conservation Foundation Mike Keigwin.
A Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) official not wishing to be named spoke off the record and had this to say: “This is a bad day for conservation in Uganda. UWA will be hunting those responsible, and people in Katunguru who depend on tourism and the money brought to the community by foreign visitors will help us to find the killers. This is not just poaching, this was a deliberate killing by someone who was not happy to see this elephant walk casually along the Katunguru road. Other law enforcement is also now involved, and they are carrying out investigations. We expect the culprits to be identified soon and brought to justice.
Poaching for bush meat is prevalent in some parts bordering national parks in the north of the country but in the southwest, where tourism is a major factor in the local economy, poaching for trophies has reduced considerably although it remains a real threat to wildlife managers.
Mary the elephant was also often seen near the Mweya Safari Lodge where she equally entertained tourists with her trusting behavior, seeking the close affinity of people.