By Andrew Irumba
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) rangers were forced to make a difficult decision to execute Uganda’s oldest lion Letaba, after it escaped and went on rampage shortly after Tooro king Omukama Oyo’s 24th coronation celebrations (Empango), held last week in Fort Portal town.
It is said that Letaba, after going through a strenuous time during the Empango celebrations, got so stressed and restless that along the way back to Kampala he broke loose from his cage and escaped into the community, which forced UWEC rangers and Uganda Police officers to launch a hunt for him, which ended with his execution.
A statement released by UWEC shortly after the execution reads thus; “UWEC is saddened to announce the death of Letaba, one of the male lions, at 10 years, that passed on 13th September, 2019 at 9:00Am.
The UWEC team traveled to Fort Portal on Friday 6th September, 2019 to carry out a wildlife conservation program during the Empango celebrations of Tooro Kingdom.
The Outreach Conservation Officer who led the team for the activity reported that on their way back at Kalenga village in Mubende district, the transport truck swerved off the road leading to a collision of the animal crates. In the process, the Lion escaped from its case to a nearby community animal farm.
UWA, the Uganda Police and the community were alerted and together they joined UWEC to start hunting for the lion as a joint team.
The lion was later sighted in the community at around 7:00Am highly charged and had already killed 3 pigs and one cow.
The veterinary doctor tried to dart him in vain and since he was already agitated, dangerous and threatening human life, a painful decision was made, after consultation, to put him out of action at 9:00Am.
Thereafter the carcass was transported to UWEC for postmortem… ”
The statement however adds that Letaba has since been succeeded by his orphan son Africa.
Letaba [ which means happiness in Zulu] was valued at Shs35m and was imported from South Africa a few years back. He is survived by three lionesses [wives] and three cubs [offspring].
Letaba’s successor is called Africa. His other two sons are Mzuri and Paradise.
Meanwhile, Omukama Oyo mourned the passing of Letaba, which he said was a very unfortunate incident. Letaba’s death is however a huge setback to Uganda’s tourism sector and the UWEC activities.