By AWORI ESTHER LUCY
KAMPALA- SHIFTMEDIA– When the Uganda Wildlife Act was amended to give stringent punishments for poachers and ivory dealers, some thought it was a joke.
The law is now biting and very hard. For his action, Awili David, a 47-year-old resident of Angwee cell, Abim town council, Abim district will serve 20 years in prison, if he doesn’t pay the fine of shs12 million for being found in possession of 41.38 Kgs of ivory. The suspected was sentenced on March 10, 2020, by Chief Magistrate Ayo Mariam Okello of the Utilities, Standard and Wildlife Court at Buganda road.
Awili David was arrested by the UWA team of the Special Wildlife Crime Unit on 20th February 2021 in Lira City in possession of four pieces of raw ivory without any valid user right.
The UWA prosecution team lead by Akello Gladys told court that Awili was a known ivory dealer who plied his trade around Lira town for some time before his arrest. Under the new wildlife law 2019, the prosecution requested a deterrent custodial sentence that would enable the accused to reform and also send a strong message to any intending ivory traffickers to desist from the vice lest the strong arm of the law catches up with them.
UWA ED Sam Mwandha noted that the implication of being on the wrong side of the law are dire because the Wildlife Act 2019 puts in place stringent penalties for any illegal trader of wildlife products. “The Wildlife Act is now biting and its prosecution success rate has been perfect from September 2019 when it came into force” he said.
He argued Ugandans to join hands with UWA and protect Uganda’s wildlife instead of decimating it.