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Bushenyi- Invasive weeds, most especially the congress weed, are threating the co-existence of biodiversity in Queen Elizabeth National Park more than poaching, the area conservation manager for Queen Elizabeth and Rwenzori national parks has said.

Mr Nelson Guma last Wednesday said the congress weed, which is also known as Parthenium hysterophorus, was first sighted in the game park in 2011.

“The weed is poisonous to humans and animals. Once inhaled it causes respiratory problems like chocking, coughing and sneezing, and to animals it causes abortions when it is accidentally chewed with other grass,” Mr Guma told journalists who visited the park.

He said the weed grows faster than any other plant in the national park, adding that its seeds are dispersed after getting stuck on fur of wild animals and by wind, which transport them to other areas.

Mr Guma said the weed originating from Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, was most likely brought into the park accidentally when its seeds got stuck on a vehicle which visited the park.

The weed has since covered about 25 square kilometres of Queen Elizabeth National Park out of the total 30,000 square kilometres.
“The weed grows very fast and out competes the other types of vegetation,” Mr Guma said.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority is doing a research on how to control the spread of the weed, with interventions including uprooting and burning the weed to ensure that its seeds do not germinate.

Mr Guma said the park is also affected by other types of invasive species such as the Karahari tree and lantana camera.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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