Acting on a tip-off provided by the Wildlife Conservationists, Police have arrested one police officer and three others traffickers illegally possessing two live giant pangolins in Kitgum District, north of Kampala.
The suspects have been identified as PC No 481107 Okidi Richard plus civilians namely Alimambo Patrick, Olara Denis Saidi, Okot Sam all residents of Kitgum district
The arrested were approached by an informer about a possible transaction which was immediately arranged leading them into the hands of the enforcers. According to intelligence information. the vice has been moving on for decades that has led to the killing of thousands of Pangolins in the area.
Pangolins are small squirrel-size animals .They have big scales that are as hard as ivory or rhino horn known in Luganda as Olugave, one of the most popular cultural totems among the Baganda ethnic group in central region. Pangolins are hunted aggressively in Uganda and in neighboring countries which has endangered their populations over time. They are protected under the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), listed under Appendix II of CITES, which means trade is regulated and monitored under CITES.
Permits are required from exporting countries for any trade activity which makes it illegal for anyone to trade in pangolins or any pangolin products.Insatiable demand for these insectivorous mammals from East and Southeast Asia (particularly from China and Vietnam) has been the primary factor leading to the demise of all African pangolin species and now appears to be shifting to Asian species in the wake of Africa’s dwindling populations. The flesh of adults and babies is considered a delicacy amongst consumers, while the animals’ scales are used as an ingredient in superstition-steeped traditional Chinese medicine.What are pangolins?Pangolins are nocturnal mammals that live in tropical regions in Africa and Asia. Also called the scaly anteater, these creatures are known for their suit-of-armor of overlapping scales that are made of a tough protein called keratin the same material that makeup human nails and hair.
When they feel threatened, they roll themselves into a tight ball which is also how they got their name as word “Pengguling” is Malay for “something that rolls up”. They range in size from 30-100 centimeters (12-39 inches) and their diet consists of termites and ants that they eat with extremely long tongues.
According to the Save Pangolins website, their sticky tongues are attached internally near the pelvis that is ideal for capturing prey in deep cavities in the ground and on trees. When fully extended, the tongue is longer than the animal’s head and body, Save Pangolins said.Pangolins have no teeth and they chew using spines and small stones inside their stomachs. They move by wobbling on their limbs and balancing on the outer edges of their forefeet and tucking their fore claws underneath, Save Pangolins said.“The capture and jailing of suspected poachers and traffickers indicates how serious the authorities are, about tackling wildlife crime and ensuring that poachers pay for their crimes.