The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) is today Thursday set to arraign in court three poachers who killed six lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park last week.
“We wish to inform the public that the 3 suspects, allegedly involved in the killing of 6 lions at the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kanungu district, on the 20.03.2021, have been transferred to the Directorate of CID, Kibuli, for further necessary court action,” reads part of the statement released by police on Wednesday evening.
The suspects are identified as Tumuhirwe Vincent, 48, Ariho Robert, 40 and Miryango David, 68.
Police and the army on Monday this week arrested four suspects in connection to the crime, but one of them Brian Ampurira has been left out of the charge sheet.
According to Police, the trio will be arraigned before the Utility Court of Buganda road, on various charges of unlawfully killing wildlife species, unlawful entry into wildlife protected areas and being in unlawful possession of wildlife pieces of three lion heads, 15 legs, jerry can be containing suspected animal fats, which were all exhibited.
Other exhibits which were recovered include a tin of suspected poison, and spears. The dead lions and 9 other wild birds that died after eating the poisonous carcasses were forensically examined by the veterinary experts from UWA.
Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga said that the 3 suspects were thoroughly interrogated, and they admitted to the killing lions for body parts and fats, which are used for ritualistic cleansing.
“It was established that during their poaching exploits on the 20.03.2021, they drove a herd of antelopes towards the pride of lions. After a successful catch by the lions, the suspects chased them away and laced the catch with poison, which the lions eventually ate and died. An additional 9 wild birds which ate the carcases too, also died,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that the suspects who had knowledge about the laws protecting wildlife in the area, still went ahead with their dangerous poaching exploits. This calls for increased awareness and sensitization about the safety of wildlife in the area.” He added.
The joint police operation to arrest the suspects was coordinated between the area RDC, the UPDF 25th Brigade, UWA, the territorial Police in Kigezi and Kanungu, DISO, and the residents who shared valuable intelligence.