837 arrested in 2022 over poaching, illegal possession of animal products

Uganda Wildlife Authority game rangers with an elephant in Murchison Falls National Park. PHOTO/FILE

KISORO, UGANDA: A total of 2837 suspects were arrested for alleged illegal hunting and possession of animal products in all protected conservation areas of Uganda in the 2021/2022 financial year, according to the available data from the Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA.

UWA communications manager Mr Bashir Hangi said that the 2837 suspects were arrested following the 19360 patrols that were conducted in the whole country.

“546 suspects were produced to courts of law and 396 suspects have since been charged and convicted. 26578 assorted poaching implements including spears, arrays, pangas, nets and guns among others were recovered,” said Hangi.

The UWA Spokesperson also noted that 46515 assorted wildlife products including skin, meat and teeth among others were recovered during the patrols in the financial year that ended 1st July 2022.

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He says that the activities of the poachers are threatening the tourism industry. Hangi said that some of the UWA staff have been killed and others injured by illegal hunters and the illegal hunting in Uganda is done in a syndicated manner from right from the direct participant in poaching and the buyer of the animal products.

According to Mr Hangi, UWA has now embarked on sensitizing the masses on the importance of wildlife protection and conservation in order to help them from being arrested by convicted in courts of law.

The chairman of Nyanamo Community Conservation Development Organization Mr Lamech Tuhimbaze says that the Organization has embarked on sensitizing the poachers surrounding Bwindi and Mgahinga Conservation areas and the reformed poachers are supported with a livelihood program to sustain them and help them to embrace the need for the conservation.

Meanwhile, the report also details that a total of 7 gorilla deaths and 13 births were registered in the last financial year in the Bwindi-Mgahinga Conservation sector.

The Acting warden in charge of the sector Mr Dickson Katana said that the 7 deaths were attributed to old age, worm infestation, human activities and interruptions between different gorilla families.

He also said that UWA last week registered another Rushegura family in Buhoma, Kanungu District to make a total of 14 recent births.

Katana also revealed that 14 gorilla groups are currently habituated in the southern sector called Rushaga-Nkuringo, six are habituated in Ruhiija, and other six groups are in Buhooma whereas one gorilla group is habituated in the Mgahinga sector.

He added that under the wildlife health monitoring program, Uganda Wildlife Authority has embarked on disease surveillance to ensure every death of species in all protected conservation areas is accounted for.

Mr Bashir Hangi said that they have embarked on engaging communities surrounding protected conservation areas to realize the advantages of wildlife conservation to individuals and the government in terms of revenue collection.

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Uganda Wildlife Authority –UWA records of 2018 show 648 cases of illegal possession of wildlife-protected species were registered.

This translates to a 3.5 per cent rise compared to 626 cases recorded in 2017.

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