Crested Crane killers face life in jail or Shs20 billion fine

A crested crane. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The bird, scientifically known as Balearica regulorum gibbericeps, inhabited Uganda’s swamps and fields.

The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and the Commissioner of Wildlife have warned people against killing the Crested Cranes, saying they  will either face a life imprisonment or pay a Shs20b fine.

The crested crane, chosen as Uganda’s national symbol nearly 100 years ago, is one of the most cherished birds in the country.

“Its beauty and elegance were the reasons the crane was chosen as Uganda’s national emblem but the destruction of its habitat, and series of factors, is making it an endangered bird. The penalty for killing a crested crane is life imprisonment or pay Shs20 billion,” Mr George Owoyesigire,  the commissioner for wildlife, said yesterday.

The bird, scientifically known as Balearica regulorum gibbericeps, inhabited Uganda’s swamps and fields.

It has 16 different species in the world, four of which are found in Africa, including the ‘great’ Grey Crowned Crane in Uganda. There are about  8,000 Crested Cranes left in Uganda, down from 35,000 in 1989, according to the ministry.

The Ministry of Tourism has also set March 3 for the celebration of the World Wildlife Day at Uganda Wildlife conservation Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe under the theme, ‘Recovering Species for ecosystem Restoration’.

Addressing journalists yesterday, Mr Tom Butime, the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, said the theme draws attention to the critical role that key species of plants and animals are endangered. 

He also said there will be a cranes festival on February 28 in Kaikolongo in Lwengo District. Mr Butime said the festival  has been organised in the district for residents to appreciate the importance of the Crested Crane, and therefore stop killing it.

Offences relating to protected species under UWA Act, 2019

(1) A person who without a permit issued in accordance with this Act- 
(a) takes, hunts, molests or reduces into possession protected specimen; or 
(b) is found in possession of, sells, buys, transfers or accepts transfer of protected specimen; commits an offence, and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand currency points or to life imprisonment or both.                                                                    

(2) Where an offence prescribed in subsection (1) relates to a specie classified as-                                                    

(a) extinct in the wild;  (b) critically endangered; or  (c) endangered; a person shall on conviction be liable to a fine of not exceeding one million currency points or to life imprisonment or both.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.