Uganda: Supervisor & patrolman hacked to death trying to stop illegal loggers

National Forestry Authority (NFA) officers, Alfred Ezati, a forest
supervisor and Emmanuel Asiimwe, a patrolman at the Masaka field
office got reports that the shrill sound of the dreaded chain-saw had
been detected in Jubia forest reserve along the shores of Lake
Victoria and that illegal operators were felling trees. By 10:00am,
the duo was riding to the forest to verify the reports. The
superstitious would probably say destiny was beckoning them.

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The trip turned tragic and was their last to the forest. The
diabolical hacking-to-death of Alfred Ezati and Emmanuel Asiimwe by
illegal timber loggers has left us sobbing, speechless and
soul-searching. As the news filtered through, an environment reporter
inquired: “How did this situation get this bad? Won’t other NFA
officers be murdered?” “NFA is operating in a fluid, complex and often
dangerous conditions,” I told him. NFA manages 506 forest reserves,
belonging to the government and thus Ugandans. For sustainable
management, the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003 spells
out prohibited activities in forest reserves, including unauthorised
extraction of timber.

Since forest reserves are public forests, NFA is
an overseer, conserving them for Uganda and for posterity. So if they
were not cold-blooded hoodlums, the murderers of Alfred Ezati and
Emmanuel Asiimwe would realise they killed their ‘custodian’ and
transgressed against government because these were public officers on
duty. The danger lurking over NFA’s staff lies in how a growing
population, fused with raw business interests and local politics
clashing with the quest for conservation. This, coupled with depletion
of trees on private land is heightening sinister timber-extraction on
protected areas and forest reserves. The demand for wood out-strips
supply by about 18 %, therefore, NFA faces a monstrous task to keep
illegal loggers at bay. Today, over 300,000 hostile encroachers occupy
forest reserves. Emboldened by local politicians, encroachers have
declared no-go areas for NFA in parts of south-Busoga reserves. In
Bugoma reserves, Hoima district, a sense of security for staff
returned after the deployment of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces to
back-up NFA.

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Comments (2)

Hervey HowellFebruary 7th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

A tragedy indeed. This timber is probably being taken for construction. We also need to recognize that charcoal is taking over from firewood as a primary cooking fuel. It is more efficiently transported from distant forests. Research into improved cookstoves shows that we could cut the demand in half, but people do not see the need for changing their methods. Let us hope that Uganda’s increasing population does not denude the landscape as has happened in Haiti.

growthy (D. Angersbach)February 7th, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Uganda: Supervisor & patrolman hacked to death trying to stop illegal loggers –

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