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NEW VISION, Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Ivory impounded by the Uganda Revenue Authority being handed to the Uganda Wildlife
Authority staff at Nakawa, Kampala in October 2012. The consignment is part of the
1.3 tonnes that has gone missing from UWAs armoury

Sh3b ivory goes missing at UWA

By Gerald Tenywa
In a sudden twist of events,
over 1,335kg of ivory worth
over sh3b, recovered from
elephant poachers over years,
has been stolen from the
Uganda Wildlife
strong room.
Sources said law enforcement
staff at the Uganda Wildlife
Authority (UWA), are the
prime suspects. The UWA
armoury also acts as a store
for wildlife trophies (products
from animals killed) and guns.
unearthed recently after one
of the officials felt cheated in
sharing the loot and reported
the matter. This, according to
a whistleblower who spoke
to New Vision on condition
of anonymity, prompted an
internal audit of the trophies
that has helped to bring the
ivory scam to light.
We have carried out a
physical count of ivory and
other wildlife products at UWA
headquarters to ascertain the
amount under custody. In
the process of our audit, we
have established that 1,335.1
kilogrammes of ivory had
gone missing, according to a
54-page audit report on ivory
stock dated October 24.
The stolen ivory is worth
$1.134m (sh3b) given that
each kilogramme goes for
$850 (sh2.2m). The report
says people allegedly engaged

in the racket have been

interrogated, but recommends
joint investigations by UWA,
Police, and the Uganda
(UPDF) as well as the Lusaka
Agreement Task Force (LATIF)
in order to bring the culprits to
The sh3b could construct
50 classroom blocks at sh60m
each furnished with 33 desks,
two chairs and two tables for
the teachers, two blackboards
and a lightning rod.
How the racket operates
According to the whistleblower,
the ivory leaves the armoury in
two ways. The UWA officials
keeping the stockpiles connive
with traders and steal the
ivory, said the source, adding
that in some cases the officers
take ivory from the armoury
for trapping
illegal traffickers, but it is never
returned to the stores.
Another trick used by UWAs
law enforcement officials is to
under-declare the confiscated
ivory and the balance is sold
on the black market.
Ivory stolen from UWA
recovered from trafckers
On December 20, the last
year, a huge a consignment of
440 pieces of ivory destined
to Malaysia via Lagos was
International Airport.
But two pieces, which had been
kept as exhibits at the Central
Police Station were found in
the same consignment raising
The two pieces of ivory had
been recovered three years
ago from a clerk to UWAs
armoury, Prosper Wasike, who
has since been charged.
Old stockpiles cannot be

Network, adding that the ivory

comes from neighbouring
DR Congo and South Sudan
that have been hit by political
turmoil and civil unrest.
The law on wildlife
The wildlife Act has been
described by wildlife activists
and managers as something
that fuels wildlife crime
because its punitive measures
are weak. According to section
75 of the Wildlife Act, it is illegal
to possess, sell or accept the
transfer of protected species
(elephants and rhinos).
Under section 66 of the
Wildlife Act, it is illegal to
export or import trophies
without permits. However, the
fine is between sh300,000 and

audit on June 6, 2012 which
confirmed that the ivory under
custody of UWA officials had
gone missing.
On September 14, this
year, another ivory audit was
conducted and discovered
that two years after Wasike left
UWA, about half a tonne of
ivory disappeared from UWAs
A more recent audit also
confirmed that ivory seized
from the 1990s could not be
traced and there was no record
of any ivory destroyed.
Uganda black listed
The elephants are listed under
appendix 1 of the Convention
on International Trade in
Endangered Species of wild
flora and fauna (CITES), which
regulates trade in endangered
Uganda is a party to CITES
and its image is being soiled
globally. It was lumped among

the gang of eight, which is a list

of countries that know what to
do regarding conservation of
elephants but they are doing
little to curb the illegal trade.
Ugandas elephants
Previously, Uganda was losing
five elephants every year, but
this shot up to 18 in 2008 and
25 in 2011. It dropped to 11 last
Currently Ugandas elephant
population estimated at 10,000
is growing, according to Aggrey
Rwetsiba, the head of research
and monitoring at UWA.
He pointed out that Ugandas
largest parks, Murchison,
Queen Elizabeth and Kidepo
have 6,000 elephants. The rest
are mostly forest elephants in
Kibaale and Bwindi.
Where is the ivory from?
We do not have all these
elephants that are being killed
to supply the ivory chain, said
Vincent Opyene of the Natural

The suspects are Chinese

According to the UWA and
police records, most of the
suspects are Chinese nationals
and a few West Africans
meaning the destination of the
elephant products is mainly
China, which has around 150
In some cases, the ivory is
polished to make it appear as
art and craft pieces and carried
as hand luggage. The large
consignments often contain
raw ivory (unpolished ivory)
are disguised as different
kinds of goods.
Activists speak out
The stealing of ivory from
UWAs armoury has been
activists including the Wildlife
Fund for nature (WWF).
something like this is taking
place within UWA, said David
Duli, the country director at
WWF, adding that it shows

corruption is taking a toll on

the wildlife agency. We need
expeditious investigation to
hold the people engaged in it
Such an act is criminal in
nature and we will support the
investigations and prosecution
of the perpetrators of wildlife
crime, said Opyene.
UWA boss speaks out
Dr. Andrew Seguya, the
executive director at UWA
said the ivory could have
disappeared during Wasikes
time. But while Wasike left
in 2012, the recent audit
disappearance of ivory in
2012, 2013 and 2014.
Asan Kasingye Interpol
UWAs management has to
explain because the ivory
is disappearing under their
watchful eye. The exhibits
have never been destroyed
and we expect them to be in
UWAs strong room and if they
are disappearing they have to
Munira Ali, the IGG
compliant about ivory stolen
from UWA and we are not
in a position to handle the
matter. We shall hand it over
the Uganda Police for further
The way forward
The audit report among other
recommendations calls for
disciplinary action against
the culprits. It also states that
further investigations should
be undertaken by UWA, Police
and UPDF and LATIF (Lusaka
Agreement Task Force) should
be constituted to bring the
culprits to book.