Crime

Museveni Signs Stringent Wildlife Law; Poachers Face Life in Jail

President Museveni has assented to a stringent wildlife law that would see poachers jailed for life if found guilty, Chimp Corps report.

The law was passed by the Ugandan Parliament in February 2019.

“The President of Uganda, has assented to Uganda Wildlife Bill, 2017 into law,” UWA announced on Tuesday.

The new law provides for community participation in wildlife management strengthened through Community Wildlife Committees for each Protected Area.

It also introduces up to life sentence and fine of Shs 20Bn or both for wildlife crime involving endangered species.

The legislation reforms revenue sharing program into conditional grants to communities and introduces compensation for wildlife induced damage outside protected areas.

The law further promotes commercialization of wildlife on private land through sustainable utilization.

Conservationists had argued the now repealed Wildlife Act 1996 was not deterrent.

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“The penalties in the Uganda Wildlife Act Cap 200 have lost value since 1996 and are not deterrent enough to check the escalating levels of poaching and wildlife trafficking,” the new law reads.

The legislation provides that anyone who hunts, molests or reduces into possession protected specimen, is liable for life imprisonment upon conviction.

The same penalty awaits those who sell, buy or transfer protected wildlife specimen.

Uganda has in the last few decades been grappling with increased poaching activities in and around protected areas and the decreasing and stagnating population of some wild animals such as Buffalos, Elephants, Hippos, Uganda kobs, topics, Lions, Zebras, Ostriches in Uganda’s wildlife Protected Areas.

There are also cases of reported illegal activities inside the Protected Areas (PAs), such as: encroachment (especially in East Madi Wildlife Reserve and Mt. Elgon National Park), Poaching and illegal harvesting of other natural resources.

In the year 2011 alone, 25 elephants were killed in Murchison Falls conservation area, which is the worst scenario ever reported in a single conservation area, considering that Uganda was previously losing around 3 elephants only to poaching every year.

Earlier this year, authorities arrested two Vietnamese nationals who were found with about 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales enroute from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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