In order to protect the country’s natural heritage and combat illicit poaching that threatens both Uganda’s abundant wildlife and foreign earnings, government has rolled out the National Wildlife Crime Coordination Task Force.
Financed by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the task force will seek to promote cooperation and coordination among enforcement agencies, enhance communication and build operational links, share information on poaching and coordinating prosecutions.
Dr Simon Nampindo, the Country Director of Wildlife Conservation Society, said despite countless interventions by varied government institutions and private sector players, wildlife crime continues to thrive in Uganda.
He said over the years, owing to demand for internal trade in trophies, pets and medicine, the need for income, and to maintain cultural traditions poaching continues to thrive.
“Every institution has different technical capacities and networks. By jointly working together; it will help to leverage these capacities to tackle wildlife crime in Uganda more efficiently,” he said.
“WCS is an international organisation; we shall leverage on the global network we have and track ivory movement across the world, and also carry out the needed research,” he added.
The development comes at a time when the standing committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is trying to study Uganda after the country was deleted from CITES National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP).
Mr Godfrey Kiwanda, the Tourism state minister, said CITES was satisfied with Uganda’s efforts to crack down on illegal trade of ivory tusks; previously Uganda had been blacklisted because of illegal ivory trade
“Tourism in 2018, contributed Shs 8.3 trillion worth of GDP-equivalent of 7.7 per cent of Uganda’s GDP, and the sector created 670,000 jobs in 2018 alone that’s why we have to guard our animals jealously,” he said.
The unit will bring together representatives of government institutions which include Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), police, army, Uganda Revenue Authority, Directorate of Public Prosecution, National Forestry Authority, security organization, Financial Intelligence Agency and Immigrations.