2 Arrested with Cheetah, Leopard Skins

Police is holding two suspected traffickers who were arrested in Kapchorwa town council on Tuesday evening in possession of wildlife body parts valued at Ushs2.5 million.

The suspects whom police identified as Isaac Akobo, abortion 32, cheap a barber in Kapchorwa town council was arrested together with Isaac Soyeko who is believed to be 43 years. But the police say he told them that he is only 33 years.

The duo was arrested at around 4pm in an operation mounted by officials from Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN, pills Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and police in Sebei sub region.

The officials acted on a tip-off by members of the public who had seen the two suspects arriving on motorcycles from remote parts of Bukwo District to Kapchorwa with three skins of leopard, cheetah and a serval cat.

The senior investigations officer with NRCN Abel Ahabwe says human-wildlife conflict in Uganda and many other countries threatens cheetah survival.

“Cheetahs tend to encounter conflict with farmers when loss of their natural prey leads them to attack livestock, and farmers kill them, as pests, in retaliation,” Ahabwe said on phone.

He explained that habitat loss for this wildlife also presents a major threat to cheetahs saying, “As human populations grow and expand, agriculture, roads, and settlements destroy the open grasslands that favor cheetahs.”

Ahabwe says as conservationists, they work hard to engage various communities in Uganda who live near cheetahs such as Sebei region to create sustainable solutions for agricultural and settlement growth by providing incentives and training on best practices.

This, he says allows for both cheetahs and farmers to have space in which to live without encroaching on one another.

Police CID officer, Mr David Mayanja Bisaso says, “The suspects had booked a special hotel room in town that they planned to transact business in wild game products with buyers whom they did not disclose their identity.”

The suspects are still in police custody and will be arraigned in court to face charges of being in possession of wildlife products against the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Act.

Mr Bisaso said that the suspects’ file was recorded under Kapchorwa CRB/11/93.

The UWA Act section 30 says, “No person may engage in any of the activities under section 29 or any other activities of a like nature which involve the utilization of wildlife and wildlife products without first obtaining a grant of a wildlife use right.”

Mr Bisaso said the two are suspected to have been carrying out the illegal wildlife business from the other parts of Western Kenya and selling the products to the buyers in Uganda as they are residents who live at the border of Kenya-Uganda, an act that perhaps is easy for them to transport the animal cargo to other places where there is demand in the two sister countries of Uganda and Kenya.

NRCN CEO, Mr Vincent Opyene when contacted for a comment said, “Once police establishes the exact country where the trophies originated from, they will follow up with the said country to ensure that the trophies are handed to that respective country.”

This, he says is according to the memorandum of understanding the countries that are experiencing poaching and trafficking activities reached when African countries met in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss about the fate of Wild Fauna and Flora.


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