UWA boosts capacity to handle wildlife crimes

NEBBI – The Uganda Wildlife Authority [ UWA ] says it has reinforced its capacity to handle wildlife crimes by collaborating with other government agencies like Uganda Police, Uganda People’s Defence Forces [UPDF], Uganda Revenue Authority [URA], and the immigration department.

UWA officials say they have established canine units at Entebbe Airport and Karuma to arrest criminals involved in wildlife trade, using sniffer dogs to detect contraband.

According to UWA public relations officer, Bashir Hangi, UWA also has functional intelligence, investigations, and prosecution units that work closely with the law enforcement units.

Hangi said poaching is already being minimised as many of the arrested poachers and others involved in the illegal trade are serving long jail sentences as a deterrent to other members of the community.

“Poaching steals from us all because wild animals are one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country. Therefore, when the animals are poached, their number keeps reducing and this affects the experience of tourists. This may force the tourists to visit other countries that have protected such animals and as such Uganda in a way loses part of its tourism revenue, as well as jobs,” he said.

Officials noted that poachers kill wild animals for different reasons. Some want game meat for home consumption and sale while some other people do it to fulfill their cultural rituals as well as obtain traditional medicines, among others.

The resident district commissioner Pakwach, Paul Eseru said demand for bush meat is high in the festive season. He cautioned the communities bordering Murchison Falls National Park to desist from poaching.

He said UWA has initiatives to support the livelihoods of communities neighbouring the game park despite some of the people sneaking into the national park for game meat, adding that some of the offenders have either been arrested or killed.

“Going to national parks to poach is illegal and people should take it seriously that setting traps to kill animals reduces the revenue of the country.  If the targeted animals are killed, tourists won’t come to view them,” Eseru said.

The LCV chairperson Pakwach district, Steen Robert Omito warned members of the community that government would continue to arrest and prosecute those who invade game parks to poach.

He encouraged people to protect the wild animals, saying it will develop Uganda’s tourism sector.


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