He said the leopard was first reported around by a worshiper who saw it on Friday while going for a 7:00 am service at St Paul’s Anglican Church Cathedral in Kamaiba Ward of the municipality’s central Division, who at first mistook it for a lion.
PIC: Part of the burnt Queen Elizabeth National Park which was burnt by the poarchers. Burning the park could have forced the wild animal to flee the heat, hence straying (John-Thawite)
KASESE - The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has warned residents of Kasese municipality to be on alert following the presence of a leopard that is prowling some parts of the town.
The senior warden Rwenzori Mountains National Park, James Okware, sounded the warning Saturday, saying UWA was tracing the wild animal in order to trap and kill it.
He said the leopard was first reported around by a worshipper who saw it on Friday while going for a 7:00 am service at St Paul's Anglican Church Cathedral in Kamaiba Ward of the municipality's central Division, who at first mistook it for a lion.
Kamaiba is a suburb on the western fringes of Kasese municipality that neighbours Queen Elizabeth National Park.
"The person reported to one of the church leaders, the Rev Alice Babirye, who later reported the issue to the Police," Okware said.
He, however, said by the time Police and UWA got the information, there had been a four-hour lapse, which had affected fast-tracking it.
Okware said during the launch of the search for the animal that he and his operatives had found and followed the leopard spoor, which indicates that it oscillates between Kamaiba and a wetland that lies behind one of the markets locally known as Bakoko Market or Shauri Yako and below the Kasese Catholic Cathedral.
"We found the prints of the leopard, which it had left around during one of the rains three weeks ago, indicating that it has been around for about that long," Okware added.
He said the spoor had led his team to remains of two dogs reportedly mauled by the roaming wild beast around the garbage heaps which the market users usually dump near the wetland.
"Shauri Yako has some eateries which dump bones near the wetland. We suspect that the leopard trapped dogs which were going for those bones," Okware said.
He said UWA and the Police had launched a joint hunt for the wild animal but called for calm.
"We are going to lay a trap around the wetland, where we suspect it to be hiding in a bush," he said but warned residents against attacking it when they see it.
"In self-defence, it can be vicious and has the capacity to kill as many as 10 people when attacked," he said.
Okware said the leopard could have fled from Queen Elizabeth national Park which is partly being burnt by poachers.
"During such uncontrolled bush fires, animas habitats are destroyed, forcing some of the wild animals into neighbouring communities," Okware said.
The Mt Park has been running repeated warnings over the radio against burning parks and other gazetted habits.
About 250 leopards in Queen and Mt Rwenzori Parks
Okware estimated the leopards in Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori Mountains National Park at 200 and 50 respectively, but said the mountain ones cannot survive the heat when if they leave their cold habitats up the mountains.
There have been increasing reports of elephants that stray into and destroyed crops in communities neighbouring Queen Elizabeth National Park.
In the recent incident, a stray elephant was trapped in Kihara Ward of Kasese municipality after ravaging maize gardens for about a month.
One person died and two others, including children from Margherita Demonstration Primary were injured when stray bullets hit them while UWA was trying to chase away the elephant on foot and using a chopper.
Elephants also invaded acres of maize gardens in Karusandara sub-county, prompting a protest during which angry farmers, including a district councillor, Godfrey Dembe Kasozi, threatened to kill the beats.