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Uganda’s fight against poaching gets a boost

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Kidepo Valley National Park. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI

Kidepo Valley National Park. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI 

By BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI

Posted  Thursday, April 20   2017 at  20:10

In Summary

  • The anti-trafficking centre enables Uganda Wildlife Authority to provide secure storage for poaching exhibits such as wildlife products, snares, traps, spears and other weapons

Kidepo Valley National Park now has a secure anti-trafficking storage facility after it received one from the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF).

This is the third such facility constructed by UCF for the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and funded by the UK government, with two other units in Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth Conservation Areas.

The anti-trafficking centre enables UWA to provide secure storage for poaching exhibits such as wildlife products, snares, traps, spears and other weapons.
The facilities also include a central decommissioning workshop with tools and equipment that allow rangers to destroy snares and traps.

Under the Weapons Security and Anti Trafficking programme, every ranger post in Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley and Kibale Conservation Areas, will have secure gun cabinets to improve security.

Kidepo, which is Uganda’s most isolated national park, lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, some 700 kilometers from Kampala. Gazetted as a national park in 1962, it has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species.

The project is among those funded by the UK to combat the illegal wildlife trade in Uganda.

“As part of the Weapons Security and Anti Trafficking Programme, we have provided the facility, the tools, and the training, so rangers are now skilled in the safe use of power tools to destroy the snares and traps,” said Kidepo UCF director Harriet Fowler.

Conservationists term the current Uganda Wildlife Act as a weak law with minimal sentences and fines for poachers caught committing wildlife crimes.