A subsistence farmer in Nebbi district is currently being detained in law enforcement officers for being in possession of a lion skin, teeth and jaws worth Shs3 million.
The West Nile trophy trafficker whom the OC station Pakwach Mr Abel Ruganza identified as Mr Bosco Opio, 34, is suspected of being possession of a lion body parts without a permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) a government organization that is mandated to issue permits to whoever wants to deal in the translocation of animal body parts within and outside the country.
The OC station for Pakwach Police post Mr Ruganza says Opio was arrested on Monday in Latoro village in Nwoya district but was later transferred to Pakwach where is the bonafide resident to help the police with investigations and that the case file for the suspected trafficker has been registered under Pakwach CRB 631/2016.
Mr Ruganza in his statement adds that, Mr Opio, the illegal wildlife trader has been charged for being in possession of wildlife and the translocation of wildlife body parts. He was found while in possession of two teeth, a jaw and a skin belonging to a lion that he kept in a white polythene bag as he was searching for market.
The suspect was arrested in a joint operation mounted by officials from Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN), Uganda Wildlife Authority and police following a tip-off from the concerned residents in Pakwach that Opio is wildlife trafficker.
A statement from the Chief Executive Officer NRCN Mr Vincent Opyene said a crackdown on illegal trafficking had led to the arrest of the school drop-out so as to act as an example that young people (students) should not engage in illegal wildlife trade.
The hunting and trafficking of lions, leopards and elephants in the area around Murchison Fall Game park is prohibited according to Uganda Wildlife Act Section 30 and 75(b) which says, “A suspect will be charged with utilization of wildlife without wildlife use right.”
Mr Opyene names lions, elephants and rhinoceroses as part of the wildlife that often serve as the poster animals for the illegal trade in wildlife and they are killed for the ivory in its tusks, the rhino for its horn.
He says traditionally, poaching is the illegal hunting and killing or capturing of wild animals in violation of the laws of the country. It is different from hunting as hunting refers to harvesting of wildlife within the law. While wildlife trafficking is the illegal trade in
wildlife (dead or alive) and wildlife products.
Government who is the chief wildlife conservationist and other wildlife conservationists’ restrictions are expected to eat into the country’s lucrative trophy hunting and illegal wildlife business.
By Julius Odeke