By Titus Kakembo
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has apprehended a number of people suspected to be the masterminds of illegal trade in wildlife.
The culprits, under the leadership of a Malian national with expired travel documents, were intercepted with six tons of pangolin scales.
Due for deportation to Tanzania where the shipment was detained, the multi-nation operation was led by UWA together with partners like the Lusaka Agreement Task Force with support from Interpol and Freeland.
"All eight species of pangolin are listed as threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List," stressed UWA publicist Gessa Simplicious.
"Neither can their long and powerful claws that enable them rip open ant nests protect them against poachers nor can the long sticky tongue used for picking up insects deter aggressive intruders."
Pangolins are unique in that they are the world's only scaly mammals.
Their scales are made of keratin, which is the same protein found in rhino horn and human fingernails. The strong scales overlap themselves like leaves. In the wild, when attacked, they roll up in a ball to protect themselves but lately, this defense mechanism does not help them defend against poachers