The Acoli and the British Protectorate Government worked collaboratively to create the Murchison Falls National Park. It was a long drawn out affair, lasting over 50 years.
The first situation changing event was the rinderpest epidemic that swept through Africa for the first time in 1898 in which buffalo and cattle suffered up to 95% mortality. The quarantine and separation of domestic and wildlife to contain the disease created wildlife sanctuaries that later facilitated the creation of the National Parks.
The second game changing event was the 1906 sleeping sickness epidemic which led to the evacuation of the land north of the Nile including the place of origin of the Acoli tribe. The British administrative post at Pakuba not far away was not spared either, and had to be relocated to its present and more central site in Gulu.
Sub-chief – “Jago” Adoniya Onen, the paternal uncle to William Olwoch-Lalobo, the proprietor of Heritage Safari Lodge, was appointed by the new the new administration in Gulu to oversee re-settlement of the displaced people. He was one of the first crop of Acoli administrators to be schooled and then trained in native administration in 1911, when the first school in Acoli area opened near the new administrative Post in Gulu.
Adoniya Onen’s new and most challenging duty was the management of the several “Tim(s)” – the managed hunting grounds in the triangular area between Tochi river in the east, Ayago river in the west and the Victoria Nile in the south. He was a family man, and a perfect single-shot only man when called to deal with marauding game.
In the aftermath of the Arab-led slave trade the country side was awash with guns. A country-wide disarmament exercise was undertaken by Major “Langa Langa” Delme Radcliffe. In one of the most efficient and effective disarmament processes he won the respect and affection of the Acoli tribe, who named him – Langa Langa a “werelion” with a legendary capability to appear anywhere overnight, the very large district with rudimentary road network notwithstanding. The disarmament exercise reduced the incidence of gun related poaching in Jago Onen’s administered “Tim(s).” TE-BITO
In 1911, J. R. P “Bwona Gweno” Postlethwaite C.B.E. was sent to establish the second Government administrative station at Kitgum in the east Acoli. He was a short stubby man but a very active and efficient administrator. He first settled in “Kitgum” but soon got attracted to a different location in which the present Kitgum is now located. He renamed the first location for the station, “Kitgum Matidi” – meaning the little Kitgum.
He loved to eat chicken, so he became known as Bwona Gweno – “Mister Cockerel”. The African orderlies who chased and caught the free-range chicken for his table were called Ogwang Gweno – “The Wild Cat” – they had to succeed and win the chase. He sent game rangers to Jago Adoniya Onen to be trained in augmented (modern) bush-craft.
In 1924, the Acoli tribe adopted the elephant – lyec as the emblem of the tribe. Soon after that historical event, marauding game began to destroy crops in the newly settled areas and rapidly became the scourge of the land. The Game Control Department was formed under the leadership of Capt Charles Pitman. In practice the new government body was essentially the “elephant” control department. The elephant control or culling process brought in some colourful characters with well-oiled and tested competence in the art of bush-craft.