Tax body, Uganda Revenue Authority has handed over an assortment of seized illegal wildlife parts weighing 7421 kilograms to Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The illegal wildlife parts including 6616.45kgs of ivory, 766.35kgs of pangolin scales,11.1kgs of hippos teeth, three kilograms of python skins, one kilogram of lion skin, two kilograms of lion jaws, 20kgs of buffalo horns and one kilogram of python head were seized by the tax body during its operations against smuggling between 2018 and 2021 in several parts of the country, especially at the border points.
Speaking at the handover ceremony held at their headquarters in Nakawa, URA Commissioner in charge of the Customs Department, Abel Kagumire said the tax body together with UWA and police formed an interagency cooperation to help check on dealers in endangered wildlife species.
“Flora and fauna are irreplaceable parts of the natural systems of the earth that must be protected because there is an ever growing value for them. We therefore formed an interagency cooperation for protection of the species. As UWA is in national parks, police looks at criminals and we as URA are at the borders,”Kagumire noted.
He said the interagency cooperation has helped reduce on the exploitation of the endangered animal species through international trade.
“In addition to our role of collecting revenue and facilitating trade but also collecting trade statistics, we also have a job to protect society. We are here to enforce national, regional and international laws that restrict trade in endangered species.”
The UWA Deputy Director for Field Operations, Charles Tumwesigye applauded URA for helping keep an eye on those seeking to import or export endangered wildlife species to and from Uganda but also for the good cooperation between the two agencies.
“For a long time we have worked together and you have done more seizures than UWA because you are deployed at the borders. Entebbe Airport used to be a key trade route for their illegal wildlife species but URA deployed scanners, there are also dogs. You can’t pass any item at the airport. If scanners of URA miss, the dogs and intelligence won’t miss detecting it,”
He noted that such collaboration between the various agencies will help in reducing the trade in endangered species in the country.
“We suspect some of these to have come from as far as West Africa as criminals want to use our country to export them. If we have strong partners like URA, we ensure this illegal trade is combated and curtailed.”
According to UWA’s Tumwesigye, the country risks being blacklisted if illegal trade in wildlife is not curtailed by authorities.
“It is interesting to note that the population of our elephant population in the protected areas is increasing but over time we have also been confiscating a lot of ivory. Using the DNA technique, we have been able to ascertain that some of this ivory comes from other countries. Nobody is allowed to trade in ivory and therefore we have a duty as a country to ensure there is no ivory trade inside our borders.”