STATEMENT BY UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY ON THE ALLEGED IMPLICATION OF UWA STAFF IN MURDER OF 7 FORMER POACHERS
Our attention has been to the headline of the Sunday Vision of 9th February 2014 entitled “UWA STAFF IMPLICATED IN MURDER OPF 7” and the full story captured in page 42 and 43 of the same paper.
The headline and the full story give the impression that UWA is involved in extrajudicial killing people and condones illegal wildlife activities perpetuated by poachers and encroachers within and outside wildlife protected areas.
UWA is using this forum to express its discontent and disappointment against the authors of this false, malicious, defamatory and misleading article and information. The public will bear witness that UWA works closely with communities to protect wildlife and enforces the law for the benefit of the people but not compromising the interests of the people of Uganda.
The public needs to be informed that UWA as an institution is committed to the conservation and protection of both wildlife and wildlife protected areas as per the law. UWA is one of the government parastatals which has transformed the sector and the economy fundamentally during the eighteen years of its establishment.
Alleged Collusion of UWA staff with poachers to kill Wildlife and find market for wildlife products
UWA as a law enforcement institution cannot be liked by the criminals and even the staff of UWA have been under attack for executing their lawful duties. UWA does not condone any illegality committed by anybody and whoever is implicated is always brought to book and punished accordingly. All the poachers and encroachers arrested are charged and prosecuted in courts of law and accordingly sentenced. Any staff found to be involved in any illegalities is also disciplined in accordance with the law and the established rules and regulations.
UWA has been able to effectively enforce the wildlife law in Uganda through partnership with all the sister forces including UPDF, Police and Prisons and other security agencies. This partnership has helped ensure the security and integrity of the protected areas including the safety and security for tourists and wildlife.
UWA employs a ranger force of over 1,300 well trained and skilled personnel in addition to over 700 UPDF officers and men who specialize in the wildlife protection (SWIFT) plus over 600 Tourism Police officers deployed to ensure the safety of Tourists with 233 of these deployed in Wildlife protected areas.
Ugandans and the generally public is well aware that the insurgencies and armed groups which had disorganized Uganda for long used to habour themselves in the wilderness places along the borders of Uganda like the ADF, LRA and the Karamojong warriors who were terrorizing communities, tourists and even the UWA staff have been dealt with by the joint efforts of the Ugandan forces.
The level of illegal wildlife activities in protected areas of Uganda has substantially and systematically been contained and the wildlife numbers have been steadily growing over the recent past.
Allegations of Murder
This is a matter under investigation and before courts of law and it is improper to comment on it. It is unfortunate that the authors and publishers of the said Sunday Vision Article were not conscious of this fact. However, the public need to be informed that neither UWA nor its staff condone the killing of communities and Ugandans for whom they conserve wildlife for and on their behalf.
Any person found in the protected areas without permission o found committing any wildlife crime is arrested and handed over to police for prosecution.
On the contrary, it is the staff of UWA who has been victimized by the thugs and criminals leading to loss of many lives of both UWA rangers and UPDF officer while defending the wildlife and the protected areas for the good of all Ugandans.
It was last week that UWA and Uganda lost one of the very committed officers Nicholas Mbaraga based in Semuliki National Park following an attack by armed poachers and the nation is still mourning his loss.
It is therefore very unfortunate, disappointing and disrespectful to author such allegations made against people who are scarifying their lives to conserve for the entire nation without proper verification of the same and mislead the whole world.
UWA as an institution is law abiding and enforces the law accordingly and any one with information pertaining to the involvement of any person in illegal activities should report the same to UWA, police or to any other institution and have the same investigated to conclusion.
UWA is aware that there are people instigating the public and giving wrong information about many issues. Specifically the lawyer Mr. George William Alenyo involved in the alleged murder case of the 7 people is on indefinite suspension by the Law Council and is not supposed to practice law in Uganda. He has made so many false allegations both in the media and in through his misguided pleadings.
I take this opportunity to assure the public that UWA serves the interests of all Ugandans and works in partnership with communities and all other stakeholders to conserve for generations.
Conserving for Generations