Uganda Wildlife Authority-Special Wildlife Crime Unit on 17th, September, 2021 arrested Asaba Ramathan, a 36-year-old and recovered two (02) huge tusks of elephant under his possession following an intelligence lead operation in areas in Bulisa district. The two long tusks weighed 82.5Kgs each weighing at 40.2 and 42Kgs respectively. Asaba a resident of Kisomere village, Nile parish, Gwedo sub county of Buliisa District is under police custody and will be prosecuted in courts of law. When interrogated by the investigation team, the suspect and was able to reveal the criminal racket involved in the illegal trafficking of the wildlife products in the area. Our team is on a man hunt for the remaining members of the racket who have since gone on the run.
The operation that was conducted jointly by UWA and Uganda Police after trailing suspects following intelligence leads. The team has credible evidence that this racket has been involved in poaching and illegal ivory trafficking between Buliisa, district and across the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Deputy Director Field Operations Charles Tumwesigye applauded the efforts of the team for coordinating intelligence and successfully apprehending the suspects. He noted that as a result of the operation, positive identification of members of the syndicate has been done with critical areas that require specific attention mapped out for further investigation and enforcement. The operation successfully revealed potential trafficking routes and areas prone to high level of poaching noted. The perpetrators mostly do cross-border trafficking of wildlife products from DRC to Uganda through Buliisa district.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) on 3rd, September, 2021, received a customised canine land cruiser vehicle from African Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Society with funding from USAID to facilitate mobility of dogs and their handlers based at Karuma in Murchison Falls.
The vehicle was received by the UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandha together with Deputy Director Field Operations Charles Tumwesigye The vehicle is to be used by the Canine Unit to cover northern Uganda and the vast part of West Nile to mitigate wildlife trafficking. The vehicle was handed over by Geoffrey Muwedde Chief of Party Wildlife Conservation Society and Robert Senkungu who represented the Country Director African Wildlife Foundation.
Geoffrey Mawedde in his handover over remarks noted that wildlife crime is a matter of international concern that involves organised syndicates linked to financial crimes. He was therefore grateful that the government of Uganda has doubled efforts to support the fight against illegal wildlife trade. “We now see results such as the two canine units in the country so far. Many people are now scared to go through Entebbe airport with contraband because the dogs are positioned strategically to sniff it out. They therefore keep looking for alternative routes,” he said. He was happy with the establishment of Karuma canine unit route because it is a good area that can be used to smuggle contraband through to/from the country.
Robert Senkungu on behalf of AWF was happy that the unit is now up and running after numerous efforts were put together to see it function. “We are happy this is now up and running. This is yet another milestone we are witnessing in the handover of a vehicle with funding through USAID to combat wildlife crime. I Implore UWA to continue with the great efforts of conservation of wildlife for generation to come,” he said
The ED UWA Sam Mwandha extended his appreciation to the two institutions for their partnership and pledged to put the resources to good use. He revealed that UWA is looking at the long-time sustainability plan to ensure that the project still remains strong to achieve its intended objectives when the funding period expires. “Donor funding is for a specific time and therefore UWA needs to take up the operations challenge in the long run. This vehicle is crucial for the mobility of the dogs because it helps them get to any place where illegal activities are detected. This will help a lot to mitigate the wildlife crime.” The ED noted that the canine unit has been running effectively since its establishment with a number of arrests made as a result. He added that the next step is to get trackers geared towards crime prevention.
The Karuma Canine Unit is expected to strengthen intelligence led operations and reduce wildlife crime in the area.
Uganda Wildlife Authority, wishes to recruit high caliber, self-motivated and result oriented Ugandan nationals to fill the positions of Manager Monitoring and Evaluation and Senior Warden Accounts. You can download the detailed job requirements using the link below.
Court presided over by Grade One Magistrate Kyegegwa His Worship Wandera Wilson on September, 7th, 2021 sentenced Kadidi Frank to a fine of 7,000,000/= in default to serve 8 years in prison for negligently permitting 10 heads of cattle to graze in the protected area. Kadidi a resident of Rwembogo village, Ruyonza sub country, Kyegegwa district was on 4th, September, 2021 arrested with his cattle impounded by Uganda Wildlife Authority staff and later transferred to Kyegegwa police station. When he was produced in court, the accused pleaded guilty to the offence of negligently permitting his cattle to graze in a restricted area.
The UWA prosecution team led by Latif Amis told court that Kadidi is a subsequent offender who has completely failed to learn from the previous convictions. He added that illegal grazing of domestic animals undermines the productivity and biodiversity of protected areas including aiding the spread of zoonotic diseases between wildlife and domestic animals as well as humans. He asked court to give a deterrent sentence.
The UWA ED Sam Mwandha welcomed the sentence emphasizing that many savannah protected areas have long been battling with illegal cattle grazers that have made it a habit to deplete the grassland. This has heavily impacted on the wildlife health with pasture for many grazers reducing. This he said contributes to wildlife seeking alternatives feeding areas outside the gazetted zones hence increasing human wildlife conflicts. Under the old law, the penalties were not punitive enough. “I am therefore glad that the new wildlife law is coming out strong to offer stronger punitive measures for wildlife offenders including now the illegal cattle grazers,” he noted.