PAKWACH. The officials of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) attached to the Murchison Falls National Park are set to pardon poachers.

This is after the poachers expressed willingness to surrender their hunting gadgets to the authority.

The decision was announced during a coordination meeting between UWA officials and the representatives of Pakwach district at Pakubba UWA office in Paraa on Thursday.

During the meeting, Mr Jonathan Opar, the secretary production who doubles as the councillor representing Pakwach sub-county informed the UWA officials of the poachers’ readiness to surrender their gadgets and denounce their activities in the park.

He testified of the continued loss of lives in the bush and the fear of scrapping the revenue share benefits the community enjoys as a result of proximity with the park as the main driving factors propelling the poachers to lay down their tools.

"We have so many orphans as a result of poaching and unfortunately, the dead are illegally buried at night due to the fear of being arrested," Opar said.

He added that at least over fifty youths have now rejected the practice and expressed readiness to work as ambassadors of change with the rangers so as to be considered for employment opportunities during the time of recruitment in the near future.

It was for this reason that Mr John Onenchan, a conservationist at the park confirm to the officials their commitment to welcome the poachers and protect them.

"It is not the first time to welcome such people but we are extremely delighted by the message you have delivered to us about the new team of poachers willing to work with our rangers. We shall give them the necessary support to live in a reformed life," he promised.

Onenchan, however, urged the district officials to encourage more poachers to cooperate with game rangers and consider conserving the animals for the next generation.

"Organize them in groups and invite us to meet them so that it helps us in our report writing for easy lobbying. Let the poachers be in organized groups that are good for others to emulate," he advised.

He said the youths will first be oriented before being offered the ambassadorial role in the community.

“In our recruitment, we prioritize long distance runners and this has been challenging to Pakwach people because many do smoke," he said.

Mr Robert Canpara, the district veterinary officer said the park officials should speed up the process of compensating the relatives of the people who lost their lives to stray animals in order to instill cordial relationships with UWA officials.

He also requested the wildlife officials to organize meetings for selected community members on how to handle venom animals invading the communities.