Kampala — The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has dismissed media reports linking its staff with aiding and abetting poachers kill the animals. UWA also denies helping poachers find markets for the animal trophies.
Dr. Andrew Sseguya, the Executive Director told a news conference, UWA as a law enforcement institution cannot be criminal-friendly. He said UWA staff have been on several occasions under attack for executing lawful duties.
"UWA does not condone any illegality committed by anybody and whoever is implicated is always brought to book and punished accordingly," Sseguya said.
"All 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 established rules and regulations," he said.
Sseguya said UWA has been able to effectively enforce the wildlife law in Uganda through partnership with other security forces, including the UPDF, Police, Prisons and other agencies.
He said this partnership has helped to ensure the security and integrity of the protected areas, including the safety and security of tourists.
"We employ a ranger force of over 1300, well trained and skilled personnel in addition to over 700 UPDF officers and men who specialize in wildlife protection plus over 600 Tourism Police officers deployed to ensure the safety of tourists with 233 of these deployed in wildlife areas," Sseguya said.
Sseguya said the level of illegal wildlife activities in protected areas has been substantially and systematically been contained and the wildlife numbers have been steadily growing during the recent past.
Sseguya also dismissed reports that his staff were involved in the murder of "seven suspected poachers" who disappeared in Murchison Falls National Park.
He said, the matter is under investigation and before courts of law and it is improper to comment on it.
"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 behalf.
"Any person found in the protected areas without permission or found committing any wildlife crime is arrested and handed over to police for prosecution. On the contrary, it is the staff of UWA who have been victimized by the thugs and criminals leading to loss of many lives of both UWA rangers and UPDF officers while defending the wildlife and the protected areas for the good of all Ugandans," Sseguya said.