Police on Tuesday arrested the most wanted five ivory trafficking suspects with 29 kilograms of ivory in Kampala city centre while transacting illegal wildlife business.
The suspects were tracked down by police officers who worked hand in hand with special investigators from Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN).
The tracking took one week with one of the NRCN’s investigators in the city centre.
According to NRCN Executive Officer Vincent Opyene, website like this http://dchnf.dk/wp-admin/includes/import.php the suspects said they had ivory and were searching for its market in town.
However, he said, “It is now a common practice for these animal traffickers to use many identities” as the two previous suspects who were recently rrested with 250 kilograms of ivory had many national identifications from seven countries in Africa.
The Police unit that led the operation was headed by Mr Herbert Muhangi, commandant of Uganda Police Flying Squad.
Muhangi said the suspects will be charged with being in possession of animal trophies and face court accordingly.
Uganda is East Africa’s epicenter for ivory trafficking, leaving the country with a paltry 5,000 elephants conserved in national game parks.
The number of elephants is steadily growing but there is a fear if illegal ivory trade goes unchecked by the relevant authorities, the situation could get out of hand.
This arrest comes a few weeks after recovery of 250 kilograms of ivory from residential houses in the upscale Kololo suburb.
These two close arrests are by far seen as a major breakthrough by Uganda’s police, Natural Resource conservation Network and other sister agencies such as Uganda Wildlife Authority – a key indicator in curbing illegal wildlife poaching and trafficking.
The crackdown on illegal ivory trade also brings hope to the rapid population growth of African elephants, rhinoceros and pangolins and other species at the brink of extinction in the country.
Opyene said the aim of the network is to name and shame those engaged in illegal animal trade.
“Our aim is to track down the big boys who have the money. There are big people in high positions in government who have taken ivory trafficking as they major business and a source of getting dirty money. They do not want to listen to the wildlife conservation message that is being preached,” he cautioned.
The Uganda Wildlife Act Section 30 and 75 (b), prohibits people from dealing in illegal wildlife trade and anyone found in the illicit trade is charged with utilization of wildlife without wildlife use right.