Student arrested trafficking 31 monkeys, 7 vipers to DRC

Student arrested trafficking 31 monkeys, 7 vipers to DRC

A Makerere University student has been arrested after he was found in possession of 38 wildlife species (31 monkeys and 7 vipers).

Uganda Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga on Monday, June 17 said Fredrick Lubega, 24, was arrested alongside Ankunda Isborn, 1 28-year-old suspected wildlife trafficker after they were found with the species at Kikorongo Fisheries checkpoint.

“The Territorial Police in Rwenzori East and Katwe Kabatoro CPS, have in custody, Lubega Frederick alias Rick, a 24 year old, Makerere University Student and Ankunda Isborn, a 28 year old, suspected Wildlife trafficker of Ndejje Ward, Makindye Division, for the illegal possession of 22 black and white colobus monkeys (15 alive, 7 dead), 9 purely black moneys (4 alive, 5 dead), 7 Gabon Vipers (4 dead, 3 alive),” Enanga told journalists in a press briefing.

He added: “The wildlife species were intercepted while packed in 15 boxes, in a white and green super custom, under registration number UBA 617A, on the 9th June 2024 at around 9:45pm, at Kikorongo fisheries checkpoint. They were being transported to the DRC, where they are exported to Europe and Asia, for monetary purposes.”

The police has condemned the illicit movement of wildlife species, due to its negative impact of financing organized crime gangs, biodiversity loss, public health concerns and violation of Ugandan laws.

“As the Police, we reaffirm our commitment to work with our partners of UWA, border committees, customs officials, LCs, NGOs and the private sector, in fighting the illegal trade in wildlife, to ensure fear for the crimes and also promote a safer environment for wildlife.”

The police hope that the arrest of the two suspected wildlife traffickers will serve as a deterrent and help widen public awareness, that poaching and illegal trade of species are punishable crimes.

What the law says

According to the Uganda Wildlife Act, 2019, a person who,without a permit takes, hunts, molests, or reduces into possession a protected specimen or is found with, sells, buys, transfers, or accepts the transfer of a protected specimen, commits an offence and shall on conviction, be liable to a maximum fine of Shs200 million or a jail term or both.

“Upon conviction, the offence of unlawful possession of wildlife species carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. We thank our Joint Enforcement teams in Rwenzori Region and Kasese for their effort in preventing wildlife trafficking,” the Uganda Police Force says.

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