A suspected wildlife trafficker was on Monday afternoon arrested at Kobil Kamwokya a city suburb of Kampala, for illegal possession of 10 pairs of Hippo ivory.
According to Muhindo Laban, Media Assistant, Natural Resource Conservation Network, Wildlife enforcers backed by a team of Police arrested the man identified as Asiku John from Arua North of Uganda.
The suspect resides in Kampala Nakulabye and has been in the business for many years in pretense of a middleman he connects the hunters from Congo (DRC) to the ready market in Kampala before his arrest he had spent over three weeks moving around with the products in a small polythene bag fixed inside a small bag.
“The ten pairs acted as samples picked from 80kgs which we were targeting and which he had promised to deliver the next day unless we paid for the given samples at 400$.”
Wildlife trafficking is reportedly the main cause of population decline in wildlife species, experts say.
New developments on the continent such as the rise in terrorism have shifted attention to ivory trafficking which has been linked to funding terrorism and is attracting a lot of attention, shifting the spotlight away from the trafficking of other wildlife species.
Whereas Hippos are severely poached for bush meat trade and other specialized illicit trade as was recently discovered.
The illicit trade in special Hippo parts is adding even more pressure on the populations of hippos and other wildlife products that have been illegally hunted over the years for meat.
Hippo meat, poachers believe, can fetch bigger revenues because of the share size of the animals.
A mature hippo can weigh over one tonne providing enough incentives to poachers and traffickers alike.
Uganda is party to the global convention protecting endangered species internationally.
The black market for hippo ivory is still vibrant despite the ban on ivory trade brought by Uganda’s weak laws which attract criminals.
How the hippo ivory trade booms in Uganda remains as mysterious, but it is believed that most criminal gangs are shifting their operational base to Kampala.
Sources also blame the law against poaching. They say the law is weak and that corruption is rampant among wildlife officials who work in favor of the gangs.
In neighboring Kenya, the law has been revised, with stiff punitive penalties that have made wildlife trade more expensive.
This, according to sources, has driven most traffickers to Uganda, where penalties sanctioned by the Wildlife Act, are still weak.
Currently, the Uganda Wildlife Act is being reviewed.
“Proposing a fine of not less than sh15m if someone does not have a permit and not less than five years imprisonment,” Muhindo said.