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Officials from the Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) manning Queen Elizabeth protected area and their counterparts manning the greater Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo have decried the increasing wildlife crimes.
During a meeting organised by the International Fund for Animal welfare, Edward Asalu, the conservation area manager for Queen Elizabeth National park protected area, said that there was a need for coordinated patrols on either side of the park so as to combat poaching.
Asalu said that Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most visited, among national parks in Uganda, even though they face challenges when it comes to wildlife crimes.
Asalu said that they had started sensitising the community, concerning people who enter the park for reasons of poaching.
Asalu said that wildlife is Uganda’s major tourist attraction and that it is a sector that contributes to foreign exchange.
Moses Olinga, the program manager at IFAW, said that there was an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife crime, which is threatening to reverse decades of conservation gains, driven by a growing demand for wildlife and their products which is pushing several iconic species to the brink of extinction.
“IFAW is supporting interventions in the two national parks of Queen and Virunga so as to combat wildlife crime,” Olinga said.
He said that there was a need for improved coordination between Uganda and Congo so that if one committed a crime, and ran to Congo, they would be brought back to Uganda to face the law.
He attributed the spike in the wildlife crimes to the limited capacity of the law enforcement and lack of equipment.
Olinga called on the judicial and law enforcement officials in the two countries to act together and combat wildlife crimes.
Annet Tuhiasomwe, the legal manager in charge of prosecution at UWA said that Uganda is faced with illegal trade in ivory, pangolin scales as well as the illegal killing of wildlife and poaching among other forms of illegal wildlife trade.
“Uganda is also used as a conduit for illegal wildlife items such as ivory from other countries, especially the ones neighbouring Uganda like Burundi,” Tuhiasomwe said.
She said that UWA was committed to combating wildlife life crimes in the country.