Elephant herds, cut to a fraction of their former size by poachers and trigger-happy Ugandan soldiers, will be wiped out soon if current losses continue, according to a Ugandan conservation expert.
Eric Edroma, director of the Uganda Institute of Ecology, said Saturday that only 1,500 to 2,000 remain of the 20,000 elephants that roamed Uganda in the 1960s.
Most of the losses occurred in the 1970s when dictator Idi Amin’s soldiers killed the animals indiscriminately. Losses of elephants and other animals continued on a large scale in some areas after Amin was overthrown in 1979.
Edroma said rebels are killing an estimated 10 to 15 elephants a month in the Murchison Falls National Park in northern Uganda. The authorities believe ivory from the tusks is being smuggled out through Zaire and Sudan, with the proceeds used by rebel groups to buy arms and ammunition.