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UWA cracks down on illegal poaching, 2 sentenced to 12 years behind bars

Last week was a busy one for officials at the Uganda Wildlife Authority as they cracked down on a number of poachers and illegal wildlife traders in what can be described as a step in the right direction towards ending illegal wildlife trade and poaching within the country.

On Thursday the UWA canine unit arrested 3 people in Fort Portal carrying 3 pieces of Ivory that weighed a total of 24 kilograms. Investigations are still ongoing into the matter but the intercepted culprits were identified as:  Bhubha Jackson, Mbusa Henry, Mbabazi Jadres, all residents of Bundibugyo district.

The suspects in illegal possession of Ivory Tasks

This follows the arrest of three other suspects on Easter Monday, who were caught travelling from Arua district to Kampala with 5 pieces of Ivory and 500 grams of opium in their possession. Although the case has yet to be concluded, the Court has recently sentenced two other suspects to 12 years behind bars for the unlawful possession of protected wildlife species.

The loss of six tree climbing lions to poisoning earlier this year led to an outcry from both the local and external community as well as animal rights co-corporations. Since 2012, the UWA has put up various initiatives like the Uganda Conservation Institute to stop the illegal killing of Wildlife in Uganda and Africa, investing millions in the process including partnerships with local communities to protect wildlife.

However, the fight seems far from over, as the prices for some illegal wildlife items on the black market like: pangolin scales and elephant tusks remain attractive; collecting as much as $3000 per kilo and $100,000, respectively.

In some countries Like China, elephant parts are highly sought after not just for decorative purposes but also for it’s medicinal values. While on the other hand many fashion labels like Hermes continue to use reptile skins to make their highly lucrative luxury goods like the ‘Birkin Bag’ despite heavy backlash from animal welfare communities that have deemed it highly “unethical” and “Barbaric.”

Hermes famous Crocodile Diamond Birkin valued at $70,000

This has made illegal Trade of Wildlife specimens that much harder to eradicate as many are still willing to invest millions and others ready to risk even their lives just to get in on a piece of the fortune that runs deep within the black market. By sensitizing communities around National parks, UWA believes that residents will see the value of Uganda’s wildlife and thus feel obligated to protect it.

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