Ostrich Population Doubles in Karamoja
The population of ostriches in Matheniko – Bokora game reserve in North Eastern Uganda’s Karamoja sub-region has doubled according to Wildlife officials.
Mr Fred Kizza, the Chief Warden of Mt Elgon National Park under whose administration Matheniko – Bokora and Pian – Upe game reserves fall told URN on that the ostrich population in Matheniko – Bokora game reserve is now over 50,000, making it one of the biggest of the species in the whole of Africa.
He attributed the rapid growth in the big birds’ population in this particular area to the continuous sensitization of the community against poaching and picking the ostrich eggs for sale.
“I am glad to report that the ostrich population in Matheniko – Bokora game reserve has doubled and we are looking at 50,000 as of now which must be the highest ostrich population in the whole of Africa,” he said.
According to Kizza what had earlier adversely affected the population growth of ostriches in Karamoja was bush burning in protected areas by Karimojong poachers and picking of ostriches eggs for sale, which he said the Uganda Wildlife Authority has been fighting with the help of other stakeholders.
He added that communities have also learnt that picking ostrich eggs or killing an ostrich is a big offence that can earn someone five years in jail.
“With all the interventions that we have put in place, it has created a conducive environment for the ostriches to breed very well,” he said.
Elijah Lobucel the LCIII Chairperson of Lokopo Sub County in Napak district said the community has learnt to love wild animals but except sometimes when they are hit by hunger.
“Sometimes what drives the community to poach is hunger but when people have food, nobody bothers to poach but still we are doing a lot of sensitization telling the community to the importance of wildlife,” he said.
John Lomongin one of the pastoralists said every day in the evening hours between 3 pm to 4 pm, hundreds of ostriches move freely along the road that connects Moroto, Kotido and Abim without being disturbed.
Karamoja region, is the only place in Uganda where ostriches are found. Although they cannot fly, ostriches can run as fast as 70 km per hour especially if threatened.
The birds feed on mostly locust, fruits, flowers seeds among others.