UWA sued over export of pangolin scales

Thursday January 29 2015


A pangolin 

By Juliet Kigongo

Kampala- A non-governmental organisation has sued Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for alleged issuance of licence for exporting pangolin scales.

Greenwatch says UWA was established to protect the environment which includes wildlife but it has either refused or failed to fulfil its mandate.

The NGO claims UWA acted without authority in issuing a licence for export of pangolin scales.

According to the particulars of the case, Greenwatch claims that on January 21, 2015, the New Vision carried a feature showing that UWA was issuing, had issued or was about to issue an export licence to one Smith Ewa Maku and Smico Skin Craft industries to export seven tonnes of pangolin scales worth about Shs11 billion.

“Upon carrying out further investigation, we found that a licence to purchase game trophy had been issued to Smith Ewa Maku,” reads part of the suit. The NGO says the Convention on International Trade, to which Uganda is a signatory, prohibits trade in pangolin scales.

“The Game Act lists pangolin as endangered species and as such the entity has no power or authority to issue licences or export of their scales,” Greenwatch claims.


Court documents filed by Greenwatch indicate that a kilogramme of pangolin scales which can only be obtained from one adult or two young ones is worth Shs1,704,000 and has a very attractive market in China and other Asian countries.

Greenwatch also says that the method used to obtain pangolin scales is by killing the animals in a cruel manner usually by snares, traps or poison.

The NGO wants court to issue a permanent injunction stopping UWA or its agents from issuing licences for export of pangolin scales.

The NGO also wants cancellation of the licences already issued to any persons or body to deal or trade in pangolin scales.

About pangolins

Pangolin scales come from the pangolin (also called a scaly anteater), a toothless, scale-covered mammal native to Africa and China.

Pangolins have small heads, long, broad tails and well-developed claws. Its scales are believed to be of medicinal value.