March 20 (UPI) — Six lions were found dead and dismembered Friday at a Ugandan national park.
Eight dead vultures were also found at the scene, which suggests the lions were poisoned.
Law enforcement is investigating the situation, the authority said, noting that the missing body parts mean “we cannot rule out illegal wildlife trafficking.
“UWA strongly condemns the illegal killing of wildlife because it does not only impact negatively on our tourism as a country, but also revenue generation which supports conservation and community work in our protected areas,” the authority’s statement said.
According to UWA, nature tourism is responsible brings $ 1.6 billion into the country’s economy every year.
In 2018 11 lions — including eight cubs — were found dead at the same park, and authorities suspected poisoning in that case, too.
A 2013 paper on declining lion populations in the country said their numbers declined sharply in the first part of the century, mostly due to poisonings by farmers in retaliation for cattle predation.
UWA’s statement said 20% of gate fees at the country’s nature parks are given to neighboring communities in a revenue-sharing scheme meant to strengthen partnerships between conservationists, local governments and community members.
A 2017 census of Uganda’s lion population said just 493 of the big cats remain in the country.