Police in Pakwach are holding two men found in possession of 18 pieces of hippopotamus’ teeth and a leopard skin.
The Two wildlife traffickers from West Nile region’s district of Nebbi dealing in leopard skin and hippopotamus teeth were on Wednesday arrested in Kayei village in Pakwach in sub-county in Nebbi district.
The OC CID for Pakwach Assistant Inspector of Police Mr Alfred Anyolitho confirmed the arrest and said police opened their case file under CRB/512/2016 and that the suspects have been transferred to Nebbi Police Station.
The police boss identified the suspects as Jonathan Okello and Aluna Okello. Mr Anyolitho further added that, “Police had arrested them together with a woman but she was released because she is still breastfeeding a little baby.” Mr Anyolitho also identified the breastfeeding mother as Ms Caroline Aluma.
He says they will be produced before court for prosecution immediately when all the investigations are done.
The Chief Executive officer (CEO) for Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) Mr Vincent Opyene says that NRCN has conducted several arrests countrywide which in conformity with the replication of Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN).
NRCN is an organization that deals in the conservation of wildlife in conjunction with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) law enforcement programme of stopping the illegal wildlife trade in the country and in the neighbouring countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania to mention but a few.
The wildlife traffickers in the region are being arrested with an aim of naming and shaming them in a bid to make sure that the populace fears to engage themselves in this illicit business. And this is against a backdrop of a rapid decline and threats of extinction in the population of wildlife such as; hippopotamus, elephants, rhinoceros and pangolins in Africa orchestrated by illegal trade in their teeth discovered to be a substitute for ivory.
The Uganda Wildlife Act Section 30 and 75 (b), prohibits people from dealing in illegal wildlife trade and anyone found in the illicit trade will be charged with utilization of wildlife without wildlife use right.
Also the Uganda Wildlife Act prescribes a punishment of 12 months imprisonment or a fine of Shs8million for poachers and traffickers.
In the wake of the incident according to a news release from the Last Great Apes Organisation, LAGA, Susan Lieberman of the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, is quoted as saying that “unless illegal trade is closely controlled and illegal hunting stopped, hippopotamus will soon be threatened with extinction.”
The arrest came barely a day after the tourism day’s celebrations in the country, an event that discussed on various issues such as the sustainable management of forest and wildlife resources in the country.
Many of Uganda’s stakeholders have discussed issues on how to tackle issues relating to good governance and effective law enforcement in the wildlife sector amongst others, held within the framework of wildlife management.