Police in Mbale District have arrested two people who were found selling ostrich eggs and a number of wildlife items at the district’s central market.
The two are said to have been in possession of 12 ostrich eggs, pangolin scales, hides of different wild animals and three tortoises.
According to the Mt Elgon National Park warden Fred Kiiza, the two who include an elderly man were intercepted at the market by one of the people who had disguised as a client.
Kiiza says that the elderly man was only a transporter but cannot be taken out of the picture.
“The network appears to be big, people are stealing these products and selling them to a market we are yet to establish.”
Kiiza said that last week, they intercepted other people with over 28 ostrich eggs. He called upon Ugandans to cater for the wildlife species because they return revenue through tourism.
The suspects are now being kept at Mbale Central Police Station where they will be charged with unlawful possession of protected wildlife species.
Last month Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) officials working with security personnel intercepted three trucks of smuggled elephant tusks and pangolin scales at Elegu border post, on the Uganda- South Sudan border and consequently arrested two Vietnamese.
According to URA’s twitter feed, the tusks and scales had been meticulously sealed and it took an non-intrusive cargo scanner to discover them.
In June last year, two Ugandans and Nigerian national were arrested for attempting to buy a tortoise from Queen Elizabeth National Park.
According to a police officer who arrested the trio, he found the suspects with unidentified girl inside a house taking sodas while pretending to be visitors yet they were negotiating a deal to buy the tortoise. He said on searching the house found the tortoise in a bucket of water.
In May 2018, a man who only identified himself as citizen ran to social media to alert authorities over a Makerere University student allegedly selling a tortoise to save himself from brokenness.
A one Nicholas Omase posted an advert to OLX Uganda, a Facebook group that he was selling a tortoise for Shs200,000, also including his contact in case there are any willing buyers.
Omase’s reason for selling the tortoise as indicated by himself is; “I need money.”
According to the Uganda Wild Life Act 1996 (3); The ownership of every wild animal and wild plant existing in its wild habitat in Uganda is vested in the Government on behalf of, and for the benefit of, the people of Uganda. Where any wild plant or wild animal is lawfully taken by any person, the ownership of that plant or animal shall, subject to this Act, vest in that person.
The section continues; If any protected species is lawfully taken under a permit or a licence issued or wildlife use right granted or issued under this Act, the ownership of that animal or plant shall, subject to this Act and to the terms and conditions of the licence, vest in the licensee or right holder.
Article 30 on the same Act states that: No person may engage in any of the activities under section 29 or any other activities of a like nature which involve the utilisation of wildlife and wildlife products without first obtaining a grant of a wildlife use right.
In 2015, a one Zubairi Adam was arrested on Mawanda Road, Kamwokya with 22 tortoises, which he had planned to sell to Koreans and Chinese nationals.