A participant's account of the exercise
Hippo census, a scientific function undertaken once in two years to monitor population trends kicked off on February 25, 2014 at 8.30 am. It was flagged off by the CAM who participated in the count as a visitor.
The census provides an opportunity for clients interested in management programmes to participate and contribute towards achievement of objectives of management programmes .A hippo census is a total count planned to last for three weeks. It covers water bodies in the park that include Lakes George and Edward, Kazinga channel, rivers such as Ishasha and Kyambura and isolated crater lakes that include Kyasanduka, Nyamusingiri among others.
Hippo censuses were previously being conducted on Kazinga Channel with an estimate of approximately half the current population in the park. This partial count presented a challenge in estimating mortality rate of hippos at a time when anthrax struck. This prompted management to initiate a regular total count of hippos to monitor the population trends.
These counts are conducted using a boat since hippos are amphibious. In areas where rivers are narrow and the terrain is rough, the counts are conducted on foot A hippo census conducted by boat is an awesome and a rewarding experience.
The census team plans for the exercise. First is the boat which has to be checked by mechanics to ensure that it is mechanically sound. Two operators are identified and taken through the nitty gritty of the turns, reversing, idling, racing, the throttle etc to be done during the counts to aid the observers to make nearly accurate estimates.
The observers are equipped with binoculars and well positioned to maximize sightings. One Data recorder who is equipped with data sheets records all the counts made by the observers and the visitor. There is a photographer who takes photographs of the different schools which will help in verification of counts. There is another observer tasked to count fish eagles.
The locations of sightings of the fish eagles are geo - referenced since they are territorial. This provides information on the ranges and habitat quality. There is a team leader who guides the exercise .
The census team is taken through the protocols. When you approach a school, you quickly scan the school and count the visible heads. Hippos submerge when you get close and can stay under water for up to 6 minutes . You do not have that time to wait for them to resurface. When you race your engine, some will emerge from the water.
Once a count of the school is done, observers announce the counts they have made. You expect variances due to errors in sighting or identification. Sometimes you come across individuals that isolate themselves and try to join a school as you approach.
A decision has to be taken on whether to count them separately or part of the school A census should start at 8.30 am because hippos go out to feed at night and return to the water before 8.30 am in the morning. This ensures that you do not miss hippos that had gone out to feed. You should carry out the counts before it gets hot in order to avoid rough waves that can rock your boat You take safety precautions while on the count.
You should wear a life jacket, balance your boat and avoid smoking I participated in a one and half hour count between the jetty and to the point where the channel empties into Lake Edward following the protocols and safety guidelines .
I sighted 189 hippos within one side of the shore in the 7 km stretch. It is a small sample size to make a projection. I expect a higher count than of 2012 of 4,800 hippos You must experience the hippo census and up close encounters with wildlife on the calm waters in the morning. If I were you, I would seize the opportunity to participate in a count in the remaining 19 days. You can contact our visitor information office to book a space on Telephone +256 -200-905446 Nelson.
FIFTEEN boats and 42 fishermen (anglers) graced this year’s annual Murchison Falls Invitational Fishing Tournament (MFIFT) which ended on February 22nd with more kilograms of Nile perch caught compared from 2013. It was fanfare with a family of Bruce Martin and Paul Goldring fishing with their two daughters.
At the end of three days, the actual competition was won, in 1st place, by George Thomson with 48.8kg.
2nd place went to Gavin Mourizen with 41.6kg and 3rd place to Leon Styne with 22.2kg.
The 'junior competition' was won by one of the Goldring twins (TBC) –while the ‘donkey award' went to Steve Rodwell for not being able to fix his engine. And the 'small fry award' was won by Jaco Bestbier for a 3 inch fish, which scored his only points!
The first day of the competition garnered a total of 181 kg with the biggest catch being a 15 kg cat fish.
The second day on the river had saw lots of fish caught, but nothing of any great size. The day had total daily catch was 267.6kg and the biggest fish was a 25kg Nile Perch caught by Andy Lewis.
The leader at the end of the second day was Steve Hemsted (from Kenya) with a combined catch of 25.8kg and in 2nd place is Rob Jones from Jinja on 23.1kg.
The 'junior competition' was led by Amy Goldring who caught a 7.1kg catfish.
The last day yielded a total of 164 kg with the biggest fish caught being 17.3kg caught by Paul Goldring.
At this year’s competiton,8m shillings was raised for Paraa Primary school procure individual desks for pupils with 4m shillings to be spent on scholastic materials from McMillan including text books and teachers guidebooks. Sadolin pledged paint for the school to bring it to acceptable standards while any balance from the funds raised will be spent on research on biodiversity.
At the same function, gifts from Uganda Wildlife Authority were auctioned and bought by Dino Bianchi and Ignatius Rensburg raising a total of 1920 dollars which will also go towards acquiring more desks for Paraa Primary school.
The organisers of the tournament donated yet another brand new Yamaha motorcycle to UWA to help in its anti poaching activities.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has won a Constitutional Petition in the case of Tukamuhebwa George and 2720 others in the Court of Appeal sitting as a Constitutional court.
The petitioners were residents of Mpokya sub-county in Kabarole District(now Kamwenge) who sued UWA and Attorney General (AG) for allegedly illegally and unlawfully evicting them from their land which was situate in a Game Reserve and had their homes and schools destroyed.
They alleged that as a result of the eviction, the petitioners were deprived of their right to education, livelihood and family. That these actions by UWA were illegal and contravened their rights under the 1995 Constitution. They thus petitioned the constitutional court for redress.
When the petition came up for hearing, the respondents (UWA and AG) raised preliminary objections on points of law which included the following:
- That the petition was incompetent because it does not raise a question for constitutional interpretation
- The matter had already been adjudicated upon (heard) by the High Court and it dismissed it on a point of law
- That UWA was wrongly sued because it was not in law in existence on or about the 31st of March 1992 when the alleged evictions were carried out since it was created by section 4 of the Uganda Wildlife Act 1996. That the provision of Uganda Wildlife Statute where all liabilities and assets of the Game Department and the Uganda National Parks Board of Trustees were vested in the Uganda Wildlife Authority was repealed during the revision of the 2000 Laws of Uganda. This therefore means that the issue of UWA inheriting those liabilities had been settled and the petitioners could not rely on that provision.
Court in its wisdom upheld all the three preliminary objections raised and dismissed the petition in favor of UWA and Government.
UWA was ably represented by the DDLCA Mr. Chemonges Sabilla Mongea and the AG was represented by Ms. Maureen Ijanga whereas the Petitioners were represented by Mr. Godfrey Lule.
The Coram constituted of the following Honorable Justices of the Court of Appeal:
- Hon Mr. Justice Remmy Kasule
- Hon Mr. Justice Eldad Mwangusya
- Hon Mr. Justice Faith Mwondah
- Hon Mr. Justice Kenneth Kakuru
- Hon Mr. Justice Geofrey Kiryabwiire
LONDON CONFERENCE ON THE ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE
We, the representatives of Governments and Regional Economic Integration Organisations*, gathered in London on 13th February 2014, recognising the significant scale and detrimental economic, social and environmental consequences of the illegal trade in wildlife, make the following political commitment and call upon the international community to act together to bring this to an end.
The scale and consequences of the illegal trade in wildlife
There is a serious threat to the survival of many species if action is not taken to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. Poaching and trafficking undermines the rule of law and good governance, and encourages corruption. It is an organised and widespread criminal activity, involving transnational networks. The proceeds are in some cases used to support other criminal activities, and have been linked to armed groups engaged in internal and cross border conflicts. Rangers and others dedicated to protecting wildlife are being killed or injured in significant numbers.
The illegal wildlife trade, and the poaching which feeds it, has in some places reached unprecedented levels. Serious poaching incidents are more frequent, are occurring in areas previously safe from such activity, and are more devastating in scale. Individual poachers or ad hoc gangs are being increasingly replaced by well‐resourced and organised groups including transnational criminal networks.
The illegal wildlife trade robs States and communities of their natural capital and cultural heritage, with serious economic and social consequences. It undermines the livelihoods of natural resource dependent communities. It damages the health of the ecosystems they depend on, undermining sustainable economic development. The criminal activity and corruption associated with trafficking restricts the potential for sustainable investment and development which is needed in new economic activities and enterprises.
Decisive and urgent action is now needed to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in endangered fauna and flora. For many species, the illegal trade, and the poaching which fuels it, is an ongoing and growing problem. There has been a particularly dramatic escalation in the rate of poaching of elephants and rhinoceroses in some places in recent years. The severe threat posed to these iconic species is increasingly also a threat to regional security and sustainable development. Action to tackle the illegal trade in elephants and rhinoceroses will strengthen our effectiveness in
tackling the illegal trade in other endangered species. Such action will also support the sustainable utilisation of resources.
Building on the existing international framework for action
“The Future We Want”, adopted at Rio+20 and endorsed by consensus of the UN General Assembly, “recognised the economic, social and environmental impacts of illicit trafficking in wildlife, where firm and strengthened action needs to be taken on both the supply and demand sides” and also recognised the “important role of CITES, an intergovernmental agreement that stands at the intersection between trade, the environment and development”.
We welcome the attention being given to this issue through the United Nations system, including in the Security Council and the General Assembly, which demonstrates the wider security, economic, social and development implications of the illegal wildlife trade; and further welcome the UN General Assembly decision to proclaim 3 March as World Wildlife Day reaffirming the intrinsic value of wildlife and its various contributions ‐ including ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic ‐ to sustainable development and human well‐being.
We welcome the actions taken under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and in particular the Decisions relating to elephants, rhinoceroses and big cats adopted at previous meetings of the Conferences of the Parties. We recommit ourselves to the full and effective implementation of relevant CITES Resolutions and Decisions and to making further efforts to eradicate the illegal wildlife trade within the CITES framework.
We welcome the important action already being taken by Governments and others at local, national, regional and global level. Commitments to combat the illegal wildlife trade in particular species have been made in a number of other meetings, and we stress the urgent need for their full implementation. We note the particular importance of: The African Elephant Action Plan and the urgent measures endorsed at the African Elephant Summit in Gaborone; The St Petersburg Tiger Declaration on Tiger Conservation; the Global Tiger Recovery Programme and the Thimpu Nine Point Action Agenda; The Bishkek Declaration on the Conservation of the Snow Leopard and, those listed in Annex A.
The illegal wildlife trade has many inter‐related dimensions, and can only be effectively tackled with the involvement of Ministries and agencies beyond the wildlife conservation sector. Action needs to be taken at all points in the illegal
supply chain in source, transit and destination countries. International co‐operation is essential, with full engagement by Governments in relevant bilateral, regional and international mechanisms.
Effective international co‐operation demands the active participation of partners that support Governments in different sectors, in particular: the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; INTERPOL; the World Customs Organization; the World Bank; and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (which together comprise the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime); the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption; the United Nations Environment Programme; the United Nations Development Programme; the African Development Bank; the Asian Development Bank; the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and regional Wildlife Enforcement Networks. We recognise the efforts made and urge all these entities, and all States who participate in them, to make the eradication of the illegal wildlife trade a priority.
We recognise the importance of engaging communities living with wildlife as active partners in conservation, by reducing human‐wildlife conflict and supporting community efforts to advance their rights and capacity to manage and benefit from wildlife and their habitats.
We recognise the important role that non‐governmental organisations, academic institutions and the private sector can play in actions against the illegal wildlife trade.
To this end we, the Governments and Regional Economic Integration Organisations represented in London, commit ourselves and call upon the international community to providing the political leadership and practical support needed to take the following essential actions.
Eradicating the market for illegal wildlife products
The economic, social, and environmental impacts of the illegal wildlife trade can only be effectively tackled if we eradicate both the demand and supply sides for illegal products wherever in the world this occurs. To this end, we commit ourselves and call upon the international community to take the following action, to:
Support, and where appropriate undertake, effectively targeted actions to eradicate demand and supply for illegal wildlife products, including but not limited to, raising awareness and changing behaviour. Government support is important to ensure demand and supply side reduction efforts are implemented on the scale and in the time‐frame needed to have a meaningful impact. Governments should work in partnership with relevant stakeholders, including civil society, sectoral experts and key influencers, including business. Actions should be scientific and clearly evidence based, building on research into users’ values and behaviour, and form part of coherent demand and supply side reduction strategies.
Endorse the action of Governments which have destroyed seized wildlife products being traded illegally; and encourage those Governments that have stockpiles of illegal products, particularly of high value items such as rhino horn or elephant ivory, to destroy them and to carry out policy research on measures which will benefit conservation. Independent audits, or other means of ensuring transparent management, should be carried out prior to destruction.
Renounce, as part of any Government procurement or related activity, the use of products from species threatened with extinction, except for the purposes of bona fide scientific research, law enforcement, public education and other non‐commercial purposes in line with national approaches and legislation.
Take measures to ensure that the private sector acts responsibly, to source legally any wildlife products used within their sectors; and urge the private sector to adopt zero tolerance policies on corporate gifting or accepting of species threatened with extinction or products made from them.
Recognising the authority of the CITES Conference of the Parties, support the existing provisions of CITES prohibiting commercial international trade in elephant ivory until the CITES Conference of the Parties determines, informed by scientific analysis, that the survival of elephants in the wild is no longer threatened by poaching.
Welcome the action already underway and urge those Governments that allow trade in legally acquired endangered wildlife products to implement measures, including labelling and wider traceability measures, to ensure that this trade does not allow any illegal wildlife products to enter these markets.
Minimise speculation in endangered wildlife products by opposing the use of misleading, exaggerated or inaccurate information, where this could stimulate poaching, trafficking or demand.
Ensuring Effective Legal Frameworks and Deterrents.
To curb the illegal wildlife trade it is important to ensure that the criminals involved, in particular those ‘kingpins’ who control the trade, are prosecuted and penalised to provide an effective deterrent. To this end, we commit ourselves, and call upon the international community, to take the following action, to:
Address the problem of the illegal wildlife trade by adopting or amending legislation, as necessary, to criminalise poaching and wildlife trafficking, and related crimes including by ensuring such criminal offences are “serious crimes” within the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, as called for in Resolution 2013/40 of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and by making maximum use of the UNTOC to facilitate international cooperation in appropriate cases. For criminal offences relating to poaching and illicit trafficking, the UNTOC is a valuable tool that can serve as the basis of international cooperation, including extradition and mutual legal assistance, where the offense is transnational in nature, involves an organised criminal group, and is punishable by a maximum deprivation of liberty of at least four years . We urge all States to become parties to, and implement, the UN Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime, and ensure that their domestic offences involving wildlife trafficking fall within the definition of “serious crime” in Article 2 of the Convention.
Address the serious problem of corruption and money‐laundering facilitating wildlife trafficking and related offences by adopting or amending legislation, as necessary, criminalising corruption and bribery facilitating poaching, wildlife trafficking, and related offences, and to institute measures to establish and promote effective practices aimed at the prevention of corruption and detection of money‐laundering, particularly in cases involving wildlife trafficking. We urge all governments to become parties to, and implement, the UN Convention against Corruption, which can be a valuable tool to prevent corruption and foster international cooperation in corruption cases, including extradition, mutual legal assistance and asset recovery.
Strengthen the legal framework and facilitate law enforcement to combat the illegal wildlife trade and assist prosecution and the imposition of penalties that are an effective deterrent. As part of this, support the use of the full range of existing legislation and law enforcement deployed against other forms of organised crime. This should include, but not be limited to, the enforcement of legislation on money laundering, tax offences and asset recovery, corruption and illicit trafficking in other commodities such as narcotic drugs and firearms. Effective multidisciplinary enforcement should be used to ensure effective investigations and prosecutions, and to secure sentences that act as an effective deterrent.
Strengthen the ability to achieve successful prosecutions and deterrent sanctions by raising awareness in the judicial sector about the seriousness, impact and potential profits of wildlife crime. Dedicated training and increased capacity building are essential tools to achieve this goal.
Adopt a zero tolerance policy on corruption associated with the illegal wildlife trade, recognising with great concern that corruption is an important factor facilitating the criminal activities associated with the illegal wildlife trade.
Strengthening law enforcement
Successfully tackling the illegal wildlife trade demands a strong and co‐ordinated enforcement response, at the site, national and international levels, and in source, transit and destination countries, using the fullest capacity of institutions and available tools and techniques. To this end, we commit ourselves and call upon the international community to take the following action to:
Invest in capacity building to strengthen law enforcement to protect key populations of species threatened by poaching. Effective law enforcement requires an increase in the number of well‐equipped and well‐trained law enforcement officers at key sites, using appropriate tools and techniques.
Establish and maintain national cross‐agency mechanisms to develop, resource and implement co‐ordinated national and local action plans and strategies, and oversee the implementation of actions against wildlife crime; to strengthen enforcement systems for a stronger preventive and reactive response to wildlife crime by, inter alia, using the ICCWC Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit.
Provide the necessary conditions for, and further support, including through international co‐operation to share expertise, the use of the full range of investigative techniques and tools already deployed against other forms of
domestic and transnational organised crime. This should include, but is not limited to: criminal intelligence; controlled deliveries; traceability systems; risk profiling detector dog’s; ballistic analysis and the use of existing forensic technology, including the further development of such technologies.
Strengthen cross‐border and regional co‐operation, through better co‐ordination, and through full support for regional wildlife law enforcement networks. This should include the sharing of operational intelligence and information, sharing information on forensic research and collaborating with relevant forensic research institutions, collaboration on enforcement activity (such as joint operations) and joint capacity building initiatives (such as training activities, trans‐border communication equipment and sharing of enforcement expertise and resources).
Sustainable livelihoods and economic development
The illegal wildlife trade is a major barrier to sustainable, inclusive and balanced economic development. It contributes to damage to ecosystems, undermines good governance and the rule of law, threatens security, and reduces the revenue earned from economic activities such as wildlife‐based tourism and the sustainable utilisation and legal trade of wildlife, which can make a significant contribution to local livelihoods and national economic development. Recognising that sustainable livelihoods will be best achieved with the engagement of those communities surrounding protected areas, we commit ourselves and call upon the international community to take action, to:
Recognise the negative impact of illegal wildlife trade on sustainable livelihoods and economic development. This impact needs to be better understood and quantified and should form part of the assessment set out in Action XXIV.
Increase capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities and eradicate poverty. This includes promoting innovative partnerships for conserving wildlife through shared management responsibilities such as community conservancies, public‐private partnerships, sustainable tourism, revenue‐sharing agreements and other income sources such as sustainable agriculture. Governments should integrate measures to address illegal wildlife trade into development policy and planning, and the programming of development cooperation activities.
Initiate or strengthen collaborative partnerships among local, regional, national and international development and conservation agencies to enhance support for community led wildlife conservation and to promote retention of benefits by local
communities for the conservation and sustainable management of wildlife, including actions to reduce illegal use of fauna and flora.
Work with, and include local communities in, establishing monitoring and law enforcement networks in areas surrounding wildlife.
The Way Forward
Successfully tackling the illegal wildlife trade and its impacts will need concerted political leadership, community engagement and international cooperation over a sustained period. To support these efforts further research is needed into the scale of the environmental, political, social and economic implications of the trade, as well as an improved understanding of the illegal trade itself and the impact of measures taken to prevent and combat it. To this end, we:
Welcome the resources provided to date to support action to prevent and combat the illegal wildlife trade, including implementation of existing action plans and declarations. Urge all donors to provide resources, support and technical assistance, as appropriate, for the implementation of the political commitments contained in this Declaration.
Recognise and appreciate the ongoing support provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to address the poaching crisis in Africa and the associated illegal wildlife trade and would welcome the prioritisation of the issue in the GEF‐6 (2014‐2018) biodiversity strategy.
Welcome the establishment within the UN of the ‘Group of Friends’ against illegal wildlife trafficking and take note of the suggestion made at the High Level Event on Illicit Wildlife Trafficking hosted by Germany and Gabon in New York in September 2013, to establish a Special Representative to the Secretary General to further the fight against illicit wildlife trafficking, and for this to be requested by the UN General Assembly in a formal resolution (ref doc A/68/553).
Will undertake further assessment, initially over the next twelve months, building on existing assessments and collaborative work, of the markets and dynamics of the illegal wildlife trade, and the progress made in combatting it. This should address the links between wildlife crime and other organised crime and corruption, explore links to terrorism, and investigate the underlying causes and implications of trade, including on regional stability and security, the environment, socio‐economic development, and on international relations. It should report on progress on actions and political commitments to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, building on existing
assessments and working collaboratively with other organisations already engaged on this issue.
Welcome the offer of Botswana to host another high‐level conference to review progress in early 2015.
The Paris round table and declaration against poaching and illegal trade of threatened species, December 2013
The African Elephant Summit, Gaborone, December 2013
The Bishkek Declaration on the Conservation of the Snow Leopard, October 2013
APEC Bali Declaration, October 2013
1st Asian Rhino Range States Meeting, and the Bandar Lampung Declaration, October 2013
UN General Assembly high level side event hosted by Gabon and Germany on Poaching and Illicit Wildlife Trafficking, September 2013
Kunming Consensus on Transboundary Conservation and Combatting Illegal Wildlife Trade, July 2013
G8 Leaders Communiqué, June 2013
The African Development Bank’s Marrakech Declaration, May 2013
Sumatran Rhino Crisis Summit, April 2013
Crime Commission 2013
Yaoundé Declaration on the Fight against Poaching in Central African States, March 2013
2nd Asian Ministerial Meeting on Tiger Conservation, and the Thimpu Nine Point Action Agenda October 2012
APEC Vladivostok Declaration, October 2012
The St Petersburg Tiger Declaration on Tiger Conservation, November 2010
The African Elephant Action Plan, March 2010
* Annex B The following countries and regional economic integration organisations participated in the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The European Union
On the morning of Wednesday 12th February, 2014, five elephants strayed out of Murchison Falls National Park to Atura village in Loro sub county Oyam district about five kilometres from the park boundary.
One of the elephants in the group which seemed injured separated from the rest of the group and started reacting angrily at the people .This lonely elephant killed two people and seriously injured another one, who was rushed to Atapar Health Centre but unfortunately died shortly after arrival.
The confirmed victims are Vincent Obua an adult male aged over 50, Vincent Okori aged 16, both of Ewari village, Adigo Parish, Loro Sub County. The third victim Edward Menya aged over 50 years hailed from Adakober parish. A hut belonging to Tony Ebu was pulled down by elephants but all occupants survived unhurt.
UWA rangers led by the Conservation Area Manager Mr. Tom Okello, together with other security agencies, hurried to the scene to scare the elephants back into the park. At the time of this report, all the five elephants had been successfully drive back to the protected area.
UWA management along with the district leadership have run radio announcements on local fm stations to alert the public about the straying elephants and how to keep safe from the threat.
UWA Management deeply regrets the unfortunate incident and will work together with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities plus the Tourism fraternity to manage the situation.
In 2010, the Uganda Wildlife Authority requested UCF’s support to help recover MFCA, citing worrying levels of poaching which stretch UWA’s limited resources and capacity. Elephants are a major target for their ivory, although all forms of wildlife are at risk due to the widespread and indiscriminate use of snares and traps.
With support from donor organizations, UCF has supported UWA, MFCA with the following:
1. Waterways project: UCF has built two marine stations, provided 3 boats, 3 engines and trained 19 marine rangers. This led to the formation of marine unit at MFCA
2. Semanya Ranger Post, and its impact on reducing snares from more than 100 per day collected to less than 10 per day collected from the delta area up to Pakuba. The ranger station is now giving land and water based ranger teams easy and fast access to the delta and the water ways preventing poaching and other illegal activities. UWA rangers have
Regained management control of the of the Delta region
Anti-poaching deterrent permanently based and fully operational in the Delta
Safety and rescue function (tourism and community) operational in the Nile water
Research and monitoring function operational in the Delta region
Fisheries protected from illegal fishing activities and practices.
Reduction in snares and animals caught in snares in the region
Mobile and marine units to stay at facility ensuring their regular use of the area
3. Bulaya and Mupina ranger posts, located in the heart of Southern MFCA which is previously neglected region, spanning over 3000km² that used to host the highest mega herbivore per km² in Africa, and 1960s MF was the most visited in Africa. For fifty years there has been no tourism or ‘management’ in south MF. Recovery and Future expansion of tourism is possible in the near future. Once the rangers are in place, the following are expected:
Intensive ranger patrolling in south MFCA
Removal and destruction of existing snares, traps and poacher camps
Large scale reduction in poaching pressure
Research and monitoring function operational starts in Southern MFCA
Recovery of wildlife numbers in the area
Reduction in snares and animals caught in snares in the region
Elephant data collection on southern MFCA starts
Conservation Education in the community bordering the park starts
4. Provided the wire and bolt cutters to destroy the wire snares
5. Provided bicycles to easy the mobility of rangers
6. WILD LEO project that uses advanced intelligence gathering and analysis techniques to study and prevent criminal activity using hybrid geo-location cameras. recording patrol locations every 10 seconds and providing records of incidents and observations to help us understand the area, poaching/other illegal activities and elephant distribution. .UCF provided 5 geo-location cameras and more 10 are on the way and 5 water proof cameras for the marine unit.
7. Supported the veterinary response unit that deal with the injured animals by refurbishing a Toyota land cruiser.
Other areas of support include:
1. Elephant DNA project
2. Rothschild Giraffe skin lesion investigation:
The mentioned ranger posts built by UCF act as bases from which anti-poaching rangers can effectively block the poachers operating in the region, an effort immensely welcomed by UWA law enforcement department. This has reduced the cost of transporting UWA rangers from long distances, and increased ranger presence in the areas have improved security and reduced poaching. Rangers will remove and destroy wire snares and traps. Ranger presence will also enable faster response to human/elephant conflict incidents. To support this work, ancillary items are needed, such as solar charging systems to power electric gargets, rain water harvesting tanks, geo –location cameras and bicycles for easy mobility.
UCF is grateful gratefulto BHCfor having come on board to support anti-poaching measures by providing funds to purchase solar panel for Mupina and Bulaya ranger posts plus and purchase of additional hybrid relocation cameras for the protection of the remaining elephants in MF because the protection of elephants will automatically lead to the protection of other wildlife animals.
At an event on 7 February, British High Commissioner HE Alison Blackburne, and Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Dr Andrew Seguya, spoke to the Ugandan media about the fight against the illegal wildlife trade (IWT). The High Commissioner and UWA Director inspected illegal ivory and other confiscated illegal items at the UWA offices, including valuable leopard and snake skins. Together with Patrick Shah, Director of the Uganda Conservation Foundation, they spoke of the challenges facing those fighting IWT, and looked forward to the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, which will be hosted by the UK government from 12 to 13 February 2014.
The British High Commission issued the following press release at the event:
UK supports UWA in combating Illegal Wildlife Trade
The Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) is so much more than ‘just’ an environmental issue threatening biodiversity and ecosystems. It drives corruption and insecurity and undermines efforts to cut poverty and develop sustainably. IWT is a serious criminal industry worth billions every year. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime annual proceeds from the illegal wildlife trade averaged between US$7.8bn - US$10bn in the years 2000 to 2009.There is also a risk that insurgent or terrorist groups could benefit from the trade. Therefore tackling it would build growth whilst enhancing the rule of law, stability and good governance.
IWT products used to be available to only the wealthy few, but economic growth has led to huge expansion of the middle and upper class with high spending power. IWT has flourished with the expansion of the internet as a global marketplace, bypassing national and international regulations. Illegal ivory trade activity worldwide has more than doubled since 2007, with ivory fetching up to US$2,000 per kilo at end point of sale and elephant numbers in all four African sub-regions are now in decline. Organised crime groups, especially those with smuggling capabilities, find wildlife trafficking attractive because of its low risks, high profits, and weak penalties.
IWT is a truly global issue which cannot be ignored. To solve it, we need to reduce and remove demand for products, prevent transit and help range states, such as Uganda, to choke off supply. This requires international political commitment from the highest levels of government. The UK is determined to play its part in a global effort - getting agreement at the G8 and in the Commonwealth to work with partners across the international community to tackle the growing problem of IWT. The British Government recently announced it would be providing £10m to combat the illegal wildlife trade. The British High Commission in Kampala is also playing its part by providing geo-location cameras and solar panels for new anti-poaching ranger stations to be established in the Murchison Fall Conservation Area. We are delighted to support the excellent work of the UWA and the Ugandan Conservation Federation in this way. In addition, the UK is also, through the Darwin Initiative, considering support to anti-poaching projects and sustainable development initiatives with local communities in Uganda.
Some progress has been made. In May 2013, the UN officially characterised international wildlife and timber trafficking as a “Serious Crime”, which means a minimum sentence of four years. The EU Wildlife Trade Regulations implement the provisions of CITES. In July this year, the EU and China, considered the biggest consumer of IWT products, signed a landmark agreement to join forces to help combat the illegal trade in wildlife products. The EU/China agreement aims to forge stronger ties against wildlife trafficking between the two regions through the exchange of information and enforcement, particularly illegal products traded from Africa to China via Europe. In addition, at the last Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka in November 2013, the Communiqué included strong language on IWT for the first time. So good work is already being undertaken but much more needs to be done.
Some of the traps used by poachers to hunt game
The London Conference on 12-13 February aims to tackle three interlinked aspects of the Illegal Wildlife Trade:
• improving law enforcement and the role of the criminal justice system;
• reducing demand for wildlife products;
• supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by IWT.
The London Conference will be opened by the British Prime Minister and HRH The Prince of Wales thus underlining the importance the UK places on this issue. The London Conference will not duplicate the initiatives already underway to tackle IWT but rather it will build on them, ensuring that they have the necessary high level endorsement and are as well-coordinated and resourced as possible.
The London Conference will focus primarily on elephants, rhinos and tigers. These three iconic species are the primary targets of organised criminal activity and are facing unprecedented levels of poaching. We have already seen the extinction of the Western Black Rhino last year, which is a tragedy. We must work together to ensure it is the last extinction amongst these great animals. The problem is not insoluble. The solutions are there but only if we join forces and ensure a system that works. From improved law enforcement to working with local communities there is plenty to do, and we are keen to get started.
STATEMENT BY UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY ON THE ALLEGED IMPLICATION OF UWA STAFF IN MURDER OF 7 FORMER POACHERS
Our attention has been to the headline of the Sunday Vision of 9th February 2014 entitled “UWA STAFF IMPLICATED IN MURDER OPF 7” and the full story captured in page 42 and 43 of the same paper.
The headline and the full story give the impression that UWA is involved in extrajudicial killing people and condones illegal wildlife activities perpetuated by poachers and encroachers within and outside wildlife protected areas.
UWA is using this forum to express its discontent and disappointment against the authors of this false, malicious, defamatory and misleading article and information. The public will bear witness that UWA works closely with communities to protect wildlife and enforces the law for the benefit of the people but not compromising the interests of the people of Uganda.
The public needs to be informed that UWA as an institution is committed to the conservation and protection of both wildlife and wildlife protected areas as per the law. UWA is one of the government parastatals which has transformed the sector and the economy fundamentally during the eighteen years of its establishment.
Alleged Collusion of UWA staff with poachers to kill Wildlife and find market for wildlife products
UWA as a law enforcement institution cannot be liked by the criminals and even the staff of UWA have been under attack for executing their lawful duties. UWA does not condone any illegality committed by anybody and whoever is implicated is always brought to book and punished accordingly. All the poachers and encroachers arrested are charged and prosecuted in courts of law and accordingly sentenced. Any staff found to be involved in any illegalities is also disciplined in accordance with the law and the established rules and regulations.
UWA has been able to effectively enforce the wildlife law in Uganda through partnership with all the sister forces including UPDF, Police and Prisons and other security agencies. This partnership has helped ensure the security and integrity of the protected areas including the safety and security for tourists and wildlife.
UWA employs a ranger force of over 1,300 well trained and skilled personnel in addition to over 700 UPDF officers and men who specialize in the wildlife protection (SWIFT) plus over 600 Tourism Police officers deployed to ensure the safety of Tourists with 233 of these deployed in Wildlife protected areas.
Ugandans and the generally public is well aware that the insurgencies and armed groups which had disorganized Uganda for long used to habour themselves in the wilderness places along the borders of Uganda like the ADF, LRA and the Karamojong warriors who were terrorizing communities, tourists and even the UWA staff have been dealt with by the joint efforts of the Ugandan forces.
The level of illegal wildlife activities in protected areas of Uganda has substantially and systematically been contained and the wildlife numbers have been steadily growing over the recent past.
Allegations of Murder
This is a matter under investigation and before courts of law and it is improper to comment on it. It is unfortunate that the authors and publishers of the said Sunday Vision Article were not conscious of this fact. However, the public need to be informed that neither UWA nor its staff condone the killing of communities and Ugandans for whom they conserve wildlife for and on their behalf.
Any person found in the protected areas without permission o found committing any wildlife crime is arrested and handed over to police for prosecution.
On the contrary, it is the staff of UWA who has been victimized by the thugs and criminals leading to loss of many lives of both UWA rangers and UPDF officer while defending the wildlife and the protected areas for the good of all Ugandans.
It was last week that UWA and Uganda lost one of the very committed officers Nicholas Mbaraga based in Semuliki National Park following an attack by armed poachers and the nation is still mourning his loss.
It is therefore very unfortunate, disappointing and disrespectful to author such allegations made against people who are scarifying their lives to conserve for the entire nation without proper verification of the same and mislead the whole world.
UWA as an institution is law abiding and enforces the law accordingly and any one with information pertaining to the involvement of any person in illegal activities should report the same to UWA, police or to any other institution and have the same investigated to conclusion.
UWA is aware that there are people instigating the public and giving wrong information about many issues. Specifically the lawyer Mr. George William Alenyo involved in the alleged murder case of the 7 people is on indefinite suspension by the Law Council and is not supposed to practice law in Uganda. He has made so many false allegations both in the media and in through his misguided pleadings.
I take this opportunity to assure the public that UWA serves the interests of all Ugandans and works in partnership with communities and all other stakeholders to conserve for generations.
Conserving for Generations