The following headline grabbed my attention yesterday as I was reading the Sunday Monitor newspaper:
The story goes on to describe how the district has been invaded by 100 wolves that have killed 180 goats, raided gardens destroying banana trees and cassava, and instilled so much fear in the local children that they are afraid to go to school. The article claims that the wolves are pushing some residents of the district to the brink of starvation.
I was like, "Oh, my goodness! That's horrible... Wait a minute. Are their wolves in Africa?" What a great learning opportunity for me! I did a quick Google search and found this photo and article about the Ethiopian (or Abyssinian) wolf from National Geographic.
Beautiful creatures really. But Ethiopia which is pretty far from Uganda. Maybe some got lost, migrated and ended up in Luweero District. That's highly unlikely. According to the National Wildlife Federation's website, there are only 500 canis simensis, Africa's sole wolf, remaining.
Well, what's going on in Luweero? During my search for information on the African wolves, I found several sites about the African wild dog. (Some people would prefer that it be called the African painted dog because 'wild' has a negative connotation.) This endangered species has a larger distribution, being found in 25 different countries (Uganda, however, not being one of them), and with a larger population (believed to be somewhere between 3500 and 5000), it is perhaps more feasible that a pack took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in central Uganda.
The above map shows that Uganda is on the fringe of the distribution of Lycaon pictus, the African wild dog. With conflict in some areas, drought in others and human sprawl, is it not possible for the painted dogs to look for new digs?
I have one more possibility to propose. There are also wolves in South Africa. I know. I know. The Ethiopian wolf is the only African wolf and there are only 500 left. Yes, but some people, in a effort to produce a super guard dog, imported wolves to South Africa to crossbreed with dogs. So the wolves are not indigenous, but they are of hearty stock and thrive in the wilds of SA. Could not someone have done something similar in Uganda? With the huge market for security companies here and the surge of foreign companies into the country, this would not surprise me.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I finally go around to watching Twilight. I've also read the first two books in the series and have the other two on my coffee table waiting for me. Naturally, I could not help but make an association between the Luweero wolf mystery and the Quileute creation myth. Stephanie Meyer created the myth of the 'cold ones' so I guess we don't have to also worry about vampires also being in the area.
(Oh, and one more funny thing. In the printed version of the Sunday Monitor, the wolf story was in the National News section. Online, it appears to be in the Op-Ed section. Could the whole story have been some type of metaphor? Wolves invading Luweero... eating... evoking fear... What might Dan Wandera really be trying to say?)