Ugandan wildlife officials have detained four men suspected of killing and dismembering lions in one of the East African country’s largest national parks, they said on Tuesday.
Six carcasses, some with severed heads and legs, were discovered in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, on Friday. The lions are believed to have been poisoned.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority said four men had been detained.
“The suspects took the security team to a location where three heads of lions were found hidden in a tree and the fourth one was buried with 15 legs under the same tree,” UWA said in a statement.
Wildlife trafficking has been a growing problem in Uganda, with some of the worst crimes against wildlife punishable by life in prison. On Monday, the London-based animal rights charity World Animal Protection (WAP) said the killing of lions could be connected to a rising demand for lion bones in Asia.
Tiger bones and other parts were for years used in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries to produce traditional medicines, WAP said.
But following a 1993 ban in China on the use of tiger parts in traditional medicine, the demand for lion bones had increased.
In April 2018, the carcases of eleven lions were found scattered in the same park.