Police in Nakasongola District are holding 27 people in connection with a Thursday incident where property worth millions of shillings was vandalised at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
Unknown people who were travelling in a Coaster bus descended on the Rhino sanctuary offices at Nakitoma Sub County in Nakasongola District and vandalised office equipment including computers and documents.
Savannah Regional Police spokesperson Mr Issah Ssemogerere, confirmed that the suspects are currently in police custody.
"They [suspects] were intercepted at Ziwa Rhino Ranch after participating in acts of vandalism, trespass and malicious damage to property. We shall produce them in court soon after completing our investigations and preparing their case files," Mr Ssemogerere said in an interview.
Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches, the owners of the land where the Rhinos are being bred at Nakitoma Sub County in Nakasongola District, and Rhino Fund Uganda, the organisation that currently manages the Rhinos, have in the last five years been locked in a row over management of the sanctuary, which risks lives of the endangered herbivore animals species.
Mr Augustine Mudukoyi, a manager at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, said the group that attacked the sanctuary disguised as tourists and they were allowed access to the premises through the main entrance.
"They later descended on the property at the offices using sledge hammers and crow bars. We alerted police which later arrested the group," Mr Mudukoyi said.
Ms Angie Genade, the Executive Director Rhino Fund, said the attackers targeted the office equipment and documents.
She said the incident happened as she attended an emergency meeting in Kampala between officials from the Uganda Wildlife, Rhino Fund Uganda and Capt. Joseph Charles Roy who owns the land . "We are yet to resolve the problem." She added
About the dispute
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary located about 176kms North of Kampala City, was established in 2006 as a protected area for re-introduction of the rare white rhino family that was nearly extinct in Uganda.
The Rhino Sanctuary that sits on 16,000 acres of land is now at the centre of dispute between the family of Capt. Joseph Charles Roy- who owns the lease and the management of Rhino Fund Uganda.
In November 2017, Capt. Roy terminated concession with both the Rhino Fund Uganda and D and D Lodges after a disagreement, but Rhino Fund Uganda sought arbitration through court as provided in an earlier agreement between the two parties over management of the sanctuary.
Daily Monitor has established that at the height of the dispute in February 2019, the parties sought the attention of President Museveni as way of resolving the matter after a fall out with Ms Genade on allegations of failure to honor the agreement in a concession entered between the two parties on how to share the proceeds from the Rhino Sanctuary and the D and D International Lodges and Restaurant at the sanctuary.