UWA recovers 2.1 tonnes of ivory


Betty Amamukirori, New Vision

Date Published

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Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has so far confiscated over 2.1 tonnes of ivory from smugglers, Keffa Ndeke, a prosecutor with the authority has said.

He said that some of the ivory was found with clearing agents at various border points, who on interrogation feigned ignorance of the illicit activity.

“When we asked them why they cleared the smuggled ivory, they said that they did not know what they were clearing,” he said.

Ivory smuggling is still prevalent in Uganda despite efforts by UWA to confiscate and at times prosecute the smugglers.

Some of these efforts have suffered a setback caused by some of the Authorities officials who have been found aiding the trade or trying to steal the confiscated Ivory.

In early November this year, it was reported in the local dailies that UWA was investigating the exact quantity of ivory pieces impounded in August. It was reported that the security seized over 300 pieces of ivory from suspects but only handed over 108 pieces to the Police.

In 2016, the Inspector of Government arrested four officials of UWA over the loss of 1,340.6kg of ivory. The four were later charged with abuse of office and corruption at the Anti-Corruption Court.

Speaking at the third prosecutors’ symposium held at Hotel Africana on Wednesday, Ndeke noted that ivory traffickers use Uganda as a transit country for their businesses because Uganda’s legislation on illicit trade is weak with non-commensurate penalties.

He noted that the illicit trade is threatening the country’s wildlife heritage and called for a joint effort by all stakeholders to control the trade.

A recent study carried out by Save The Elephant (STI), a UK registered charity organisation based in Kenya, reveals that 100,000 elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012 in East Africa.

It also reveals that the demand for ivory in the far east is the primary driver of the killing and that in the four years up to 2014 the wholesale price of raw ivory in China tripled, reaching a per kilo price of $2,100.

According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, any export or import of ivory involving Uganda or Congo is illegal.

The symposium which was held under the theme ‘the fight against illicit financial flows in Uganda’, was attended by prosecutors from Uganda Revenue Authority, UWA, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), police, Inspectorate of Government, officials from the Financial Investigations Authority and Interpol.

In her remarks, commissioner general for Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Doris Akol asked stakeholders to work together towards a common goal to tackle illicit financial flows which requires collaboration on investigations, prosecution and addressing weaknesses in the current legal regime.

“Illicit financial flows pose a great challenge to political and economic security around the world, particularly in developing countries like Uganda,” she said.