KAMPALA: The Ugandan Parliament on Tuesday enacted a stringent wildlife law that would see poachers jailed for life if found guilty.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority Bill 2017 replaces the old Uganda Wildlife Act 1996 that conservationists say was not deterrent.
“The penalties in the Uganda Wildlife Act Cap 200 have lost value since 1996 and are not deterrent enough to check the escalating levels of poaching and wildlife trafficking,” the new Bill reads.
According to the new law, anyone who hunts, molests or reduces into possession protected specimen, is liable for life imprisonment upon conviction. The same penalty awaits those who sell, buy or transfer protected wildlife specimen.
Bashir Hangi, spokesperson of Uganda Wildlife Authority, a state run conservation agency, told Xinhua by telephone that he is optimistic that the new law would curb poaching.
“We are cautioning poachers and other illegal dealers in wildlife specimen. Their days are numbered. We hope the law will bite,” he said.
“Right now we are waiting for the President to assent to the Bill, have it gazetted and then we can put it into practice,” he added.
Earlier this month, authorities arrested two Vietnamese nationals who were found with about 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales enroute from the Democratic Republic of Congo.