Kampala, Uganda – Awili David, a 47-year-old resident of Angwee cell, Abim town council, Abim district has been sentenced to 20 years in prison or a fine of 12 million for being found in possession of 41.38 Kgs of raw ivory.
Awili was yesterday (March 10, 2020) sentenced by Chief Magistrate Ayo Mariam Okello of the Utilities, Standard and Wildlife Court at Buganda road following his arrest on 20th February, 2021 in Lira City.
The UWA prosecution team led 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, prosecution requested for 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.
Reacting to the sentence, the 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.
According to the IUCN red list of threatened species, the elephant is classified as a vulnerable specie because of high levels of poaching attributed to illegal trade in ivory and its products.
Currently, the larger populations of elephants in Uganda are found in Queen Elizabeth National Park with other herds in protected areas like Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley National park (s).
Speaking to Africa Tembelea, Bashir Hangi, the UWA Communications Manager noted that recovery of elephant numbers from about 2000 in the 1980s to the current 8342 is attributed largely to the successful protection efforts implemented by the Wildlife Agency, improved legislation and conservation policies.