UWA staff get online skills to guard wildlife

Tuesday April 20 2021
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Tourists visit Queen Elizabeth National Park. Six lions were found dead at Ishasha sector of the park last month. PHOTO /courtesy

By Tonny Abet

The government is training wildlife law enforcement officers from Uganda Wildlife Authority on mobile forensic investigations to enhance in-house investigation capacity in fighting illegal wildlife trade. 

This comes at a time when perpetrators of wildlife crimes are employing online technology to communicate and make transactions, a development that is challenging the existing skills of law enforcers in mitigating the crimes.

The training which is going on in Kampala until April 23, is being done by Israeli digital intelligence firm Cellebrite, with financial support from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).

Mr Ernest Angina, AWF’s cybercrime investigations manager, said yesterday that they are equipping 28 law enforcement officers from UWA with new tactics to deal with the changing nature of wildlife crimes in the country. 

"This training will develop UWA officers’ competence in dealing with cybercrime activities, and will certify them to give expert evidence and as well secure sentences while using electronic evidence. We are spending $10,000 (about Shs365,000) to train each personnel,” he told Daily Monitor. 

The cybercrime manager explained that the training will increase the officers' skills in the proper identification, acquisition, storage, chain of custody and case management of digital evidence for perpetrators of wildlife crime being committed online.

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The training is happening a month after the 6 lions were killed by poachers at Queen Elizabeth National in Kanungu District because they wanted to sell body parts of the lions.

The Kanungu deputy resident district commissioner, Mr Gad Rugaaju, said: "After being arrested, the suspects admitted to slaughtering the lions for their teeth and claws, which to them Is a big trade." 

The AWF country director, Mr Sudi Bamulesewa, said yesterday that the illicit wildlife trade in the country is majorly being done by Asians who are in the country, but that although there was a spike in poaching and illicit trade in wildlife during Covid-19 lockdown, the incidence is coming down.

Mr Bashir Hangi, the UWA communications manager said they are increasing the training of their law enforcers to mitigate cybercrime in the context of wildlife. 


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