The Uganda Wildlife Authority is organizing a collaborative cross-border training session for Ugandan and DR Congo law enforcement officers in Fort Portal, with the goal of combatting the region’s illegal wildlife trade.
George Oweyesigiire, the acting commissioner wildlife conservation at the Ministry of tourism, wildlife and antiquities, told journalists at the Nyaika hotel in Fort Portal that illegal wildlife trafficking is one of the country’s major risks to tourism.
According to the commissioner, Uganda recorded a large number of illegal wildlife trafficking cases in 2010, 2011, and 2012, in which pangolins, ivory, and other valuable rare animal species were unlawfully traded to other nations.
According to Oweyesigiire, the illegal wildlife trade is sophisticated and involves a lot of money, and the affluent and powerful persuade the poor to participate in the illegal trade on their behalf.
“The reason we came together in this training is because we couldn’t work alone,” he explained. “That’s why we have to bring various partners on board, especially law enforcement agencies, URA customs, UPDF, and the Uganda police force in a joint effort against the illegal trade of animals, with our neighbors in the Democratic Republic of Congo to combat such acts,” he added.
According to the commissioner, tough rules and punishments have been implemented to combat unlawful trading, with those who violate the 2019 Wildlife Act facing large fines, life imprisonment, or both.
According to George, this has resulted in a large number of people filing for legal trade licenses, which was not the case previously.
Julian Sarah Ayesiga, the Kabarole district RDC, said that if the trafficking is to be thwarted, detailed inspection is required, noting that traffickers use milk cans to convey their goods to their next locations, among other techniques.
She also urged law enforcement officers to remain patriotic, noting that some have continued to profit from the drug trade through corruption.
Moses Walinga, the manager of the International Fund for Animal Welfare Programs, is optimistic that animal trafficking would be combated by all security officials working together against the illegal trade.
According to Pontience Inzuma, the chief warden of Queen Elizabeth National Park, licit trading costs the world at least 15 billion pounds, while it costs Uganda 23 billion shillings each year.
According to Inzuma, this is worrisome for the country, which relies heavily on tourism as a source of revenue. He feels that the training will help Uganda Wildlife Authority’s work by facilitating good partnerships.
Inzuma claims that the acts are so deadly because they frequently bring terrible diseases from wild animals to humans, which can be difficult to treat, citing Murburg and Ebola as examples. As a result, he is urging communities living near game parks, national forests, and wildlife reserves to join forces with Uganda Wildlife Authorities to combat the illegal trade.
The US State Department is funding cross-border training for Ugandan and DRC law enforcement personnel as part of the international welfare for animals program. Its goal is to prevent and combat illegal wildlife trafficking on Bunagana and Mpondwe’s southern borders.
Wildlife crime in Uganda is estimated to be worth between $7 million and $23 million per year, making it one of the most lucrative illegal businesses. Wildlife crime is frequently carried out by sophisticated international and well-organized criminal networks looking to profit from the high rewards and low risks of trade.