Category Archives: Uganda

African Nations Call On the World to Help Them Save African Elephants

Montreux, 29 June 2016: The African Elephant Coalition (AEC), comprising 29 African countries, are calling on the world to join them in saving elephants. The Montreux Manifesto, agreed at a meeting of the Coalition in Montreux, Switzerland from 24 to 26 June, launches a social media campaign – #WorthMoreAlive, #EndIvoryTrade, #Vote4Elephants” – to gain support for their five-part package to put an end to the ivory trade and afford elephants the highest protection under international law.

The AEC’s package, consisting of five proposals to the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in September-October in Johannesburg, South Africa, is designed to reverse the poaching crisis facing elephants. Taken together, the proposals would ban the international trade in ivory by listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I, close domestic ivory markets around the world, encourage better management of ivory stockpiles and where possible their destruction, end further debate in CITES on a mechanism to legalize ivory trade, and limit exports of live African elephants to conservation projects in their natural habitat.

“The Montreux Manifesto shows that our message is clear.”, says Bourama Niagaté from Mali, a member of the Council of the Elders for the Coalition, “we need to all pull together for the sake of Africa’s elephants.”

The Coalition expressed its deep concern about the crisis facing elephants and its conviction that a ban on international and domestic trade in ivory is the best way to protect elephants.

“CITES saved African elephants from certain extinction 27 years ago by listing them on Appendix I,” says Vera Weber, president of the Swiss-based Fondation Franz Weber, a partner organization of the AEC, which facilitated the meeting. “Since then the protection of elephants has been weakened, and poaching has escalated. The AEC has charted a path to relist elephants on Appendix I and ban the ivory trade once and for all.”

The Manifesto appeals to governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations for their support, and calls on citizens around the world to ask their respective governments and CITES representatives to support the five proposals and to help the Coalition in its mission to list all elephants in Appendix I.

NOTES

The five proposals submitted by the AEC to CITES are:

1. Listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I
The proposal seeks to unify all African elephant populations and their range States in one Appendix I listing, ending split-listing through the transfer from Appendix II of the populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The African elephant as a species is not constrained within State borders, nor indeed are national populations. Many are shared with more than one country, arguing for a unified approach to their regulation under CITES. This action seeks to gain the maximum protection for elephants by simplifying and improving enforcement and sending a clear message to the world that ivory cannot be legally traded under international law.

2. Closure of domestic ivory markets
This proposal calls for closure of all domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory. Closing all internal markets in range, transit and end-user consumer States would drastically reduce opportunities for the laundering of poached ivory, under the guise that it is antique, “pre-Convention” or otherwise legally acquired. It would also reinforce the message that all ivory sales should be stopped, as they are dangerous for elephants.

3. Ivory stockpile destruction and management
This proposal builds on two earlier papers submitted to the CITES Standing Committee in 2014 and 2016, which led to recognition by the Committee of the destructions of ivory stockpiles by governments since 2011, and a recommendation to develop guidance on stockpile management. It endorses ivory destruction, encourages the highest possible standards of stockpile management, and requests the CITES Secretariat to provide the best available technical guidance on stockpile inventories, audit, management and disposal, including DNA sampling to determine the origin of items in the stockpile.

4. The Decision-Making Mechanism for a process of trade in ivory (DMM)
The proposal recommends that the CoP should end negotiations on the DMM. In view of the concerted global efforts to reduce demand for ivory, the existence of negotiations on a DMM process to legalize trade sends precisely the wrong message – that a legal and sustainable ivory trade is possible, and could reopen in the not-too-distant future. The DMM not only poses unacceptable risks for elephants, but has also generated valid objections among Parties, as shown by the fact that CITES has been unable to make any progress in negotiations after 9 years.

5. Restricting trade in live elephants
The proposal aims to end the export of African elephants outside their natural range, including export to zoos and other captive facilities overseas. Such exports provide no direct benefit to conservation of elephants in their range States (as noted by the IUCN-SSC African Elephant Specialist Group), and there are considerable objections within Africa on ethical and cultural grounds. African elephants, along with their ivory, should remain in Africa.

· The African Elephant Coalition was established in 2008 in Bamako, Mali. It comprises 29 member countries from Africa united by a common goal: “a viable and healthy elephant population free of threats from international ivory trade.” The meeting in Montreux from 24-26 June will be the seventh meeting of the Coalition since it was founded.

· The 29 member countries of the African Elephant Coalition include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Togo and Uganda. Of the 29 countries represented in the Coalition, 25 of them are African elephant range States, comprising the majority (68%) of the 37 countries in which African elephants occur in the wild.

· Fondation Franz Weber (FFW), based in Switzerland, actively fights to preserve wildlife and nature in Africa and works worldwide to protect animals as individuals through the recognition of their rights and the abolition of inhumane practices.

· The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was established in 1973, entered into force in 1975, and accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants. Currently 182 countries are Parties to the Convention. The 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) will be held in Johannesburg from 24 September to 5 October 2016. The Conference meets every three years.

CONTACTS

· Vera Weber, Fondation Franz Weber: +41 (0)79 210 54 04 / veraweber@ffw.ch
· Don Lehr, Media Relations Consultant: +1 917 304 4058 / dblehr@cs.com
· Patricia Awori, AEC Secretariat : +254 722 510 848 / aworipat@africanelephantcoalition.org

http://www.africanelephantcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Manifesto.pdf

Entebbe police delays ivory, pangolin case (Uganda)

New Vision
January 31, 2015
A week after wildlife officials impounded 791kg of ivory and 2,029kg of pangolin scales, details have emerged that the cargo was escorted by armed personnel to Entebbe International Airport.
Sources say attempts were made to bribe Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) officials at Entebbe to turn a blind eye to the cargo, which was destined for the Netherlands. Two of the officials refused to take the bribe and turned the tables against their colleagues, who had connived with the traffickers.
The cargo was cleared as “telecommunication equipment” from MTN that was being shipped to the Netherlands for repair, according to documents obtained by Saturday Vision.
When contacted about the matter, MTN officials in Kampala distanced themselves from the deal.
“I do not know anything about this case and we have not been approached by the Police or UWA,” said Anthony Katamba, MTN’s corporate affairs manager.
“MTN is a busy telephone company. We have no time for exporting ivory. We do not even know how much it costs. It should be obvious to you that somebody is using our name to deal in ivory.”
Asked why the suspects are delaying to appear in court, the commandant of Aviation Police, Lodovick Awita, said he was in Moroto and referred Saturday Vision to the officers investigating the case for a comment.
The officer in charge of criminal investigations at Entebbe, Makaris Erico, noted that he needed time to consult his colleagues, saying he would get back to the writer in 10 minutes.
However, he did not call back or pick repeated phone calls on his known cellphone.
According to Aviation Police at Entebbe, a cargo handler and clearing agent were arrested immediately after the deal was uncovered.
The driver of the truck that delivered the cargo, according to sources, took the team of wildlife officials and the Police to the house in Bunamwaya, Wakiso district, where the ivory and pangolin scales were loaded.
A weighing scale, ivory moulding machine and pangolin scales were recovered.
 “The suspect in whose house evidence was recovered would be a prime suspect,” a source said, adding: “I do not see why they do not charge the suspects. This is a case where somebody was caught red-handed.”
According to sources, this could end up like many high-profile cases of wildlife crimes that have been reported to Police, but charges have never been brought against the suspects.

 

Uganda suspends officials after ton of ivory stolen from vault

Agence France Presse
November 18, 2014
Kampala (AFP) – Uganda’s wildlife authority has suspended five top officials after a ton of seized ivory worth over a million dollars vanished from government strongrooms, its chief said Tuesday.
Interpol has been called in to aid in investigating the incident, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) chief Raymond Engena told AFP, following calls from the president to catch the culprits.
“We have suspended five officials to allow investigations into how the ivory went missing,” Engena said.
They include the government-run UWA’s chief ranger, those who had access to the strong room, as well as intelligence officers in the agency.
“We are cooperating with the police to establish the people behind this crime, and we have also involved Interpol in the investigations,” Engena said. “The people behind this will be found and dealt with decisively.”
The UWA said a routine check had found that 1,335 kilogrammes (2,943 pounds) of ivory had vanished from supposedly secure stockpiles, which officials estimated to be valued at some 1.1 million dollars (880,000 euros).
Staff are feared to have been working with the very traffickers they are meant to stop to steal and sell on the confiscated tusks.
Some corrupt officials are believed to have taken the ivory claiming to use it to ensnare potential traffickers, but then later selling it themselves.
Poaching has risen sharply across Africa in recent years fuelled by rising demand in Asia for ivory and rhino horn, coveted as a traditional medicine and a status symbol.
Uganda is a key transit country for the illegal trade.
More than 35,000 elephants are killed across Africa every year for their tusks.

Counting the cost of East Africa’s poaching economy

Organised crime gangs generate staggering profits smuggling ivory and rhino horn

AFP

Published: 15:33 March 23, 2014

Nairobi: Organised crime gangs in East Africa are generating staggering profits smuggling ivory and rhino horn with impunity, experts say, threatening both an irreplaceable wildlife heritage and key tourism industries.

Kenyan and Tanzanian ports are the “primary gateway” for ivory smuggled to Asia, where demand is fuelled by increasingly affluent markets, especially in China, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warns.

Last year, seizures of ivory shipments reached “record levels”, according to a recent Interpol report.

“Large-scale ivory shipments — each one representing the slaughter of hundreds of elephants — point to the involvement of organised crime networks operating across multiple countries,” Interpol said.

 Poaching has risen sharply across Africa in recent years.

Organised gangs with insider knowledge and armed with automatic weapons and specialised equipment such as night vision goggles, brazenly use chainsaws to carve out the rhino horn or remove elephant tusks.

Veteran Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey has now warned that drastic action must be taken, saying that known ringleaders in Kenya are operating with “outrageous impunity”.

The rise in poaching, with animals being slaughtered inside even the most heavily guarded national parks or conservation areas, show that the poachers have little fear of tough new laws designed to stem the wave of killings, he said.

“They could not operate with the impunity we are seeing if you did not have some form of protection from law enforcement agencies,” Leakey said, as he made an appeal for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to take action.

“It is a problem of a few criminals… the ringleaders are known,” he added, claiming that a core group of around 20 to 30 people were organising the mass poaching but that none had faced justice.

It’s a lucrative business: a kilo of ivory is worth some $850 (Dh3,121) in Asia, with UNODC suggesting ivory smuggled to Asia from Eastern Africa was worth over $31 million in 2011.

But such short-term and finite profits generated by the spate of killings are threatening the far more valuable tourism industry, which in Kenya and Tanzania is the second largest foreign exchange earner after agriculture.

“The African elephant is not currently deemed ‘endangered’ as a species, but its decimation in Eastern Africa could be devastating,” UNODC’s report read.

“In addition to the reduction in genetic diversity, its loss could seriously undermine local tourist revenues, a key source of foreign exchange for many of the countries of the region.”

But the region’s two large container ports — Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania — are also notorious trafficking hubs, funnelling more elephant tusks to Asia than all of central, southern and west African nations combined.

The two nations made up almost two-thirds of all large shipments of ivory seized across the entire continent from 2009-2011, according to the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), a tracking database run by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

Seizures of containers crammed full of tusks — often hidden under foul-smelling fish or dried chili peppers in a bid to confuse sniffer dogs or discourage detailed searches — are regularly found.

Much of the ivory smuggled is destined for China, whose rapidly growing economy has encouraged those enjoying disposable income to splash out on an ivory trinket as a sign of financial success.

“Growing affluence in China, where possession of elephant ivory remains a status symbol, appears to have rendered China the world’s leading destination for illicit ivory,” the UNODC report added.

The smuggling of rhino horns is a bigger problem for Southern Africa, which has far more of the endangered animals. It is often done by air, due to the value of the horn and its smaller size.

But scores of East African rhinos are also being killed despite wildlife rangers often risking their lives to protect them.

 Few convictions

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 Action is being taken including far stiffer sentences for wildlife crime, with Tanzania this month jailing a Chinese ivory smuggler to 20 years in jail, and Kenya introducing tough new laws with comparable penalties.

But many escape justice: a recent study by the Kenyan conservation campaign group Wildlife Direct found that just four percent of those convicted of wildlife crime in the past spent time in jail.

Tanzania last year launched a crackdown on suspected poachers, operating under what was reported to be a shoot-to-kill policy and making sweeping arrests.

Leakey, 69, a Kenyan national and former head of the government’s Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said with the “right management” stemming the poaching was “not an impossible” task.

He was key in stemming the rampant poaching of the late 1980s, bringing in extreme measures to combat poachers including sending helicopter gunships into national parks, and organising the iconic burning of stockpiled ivory.

“It is not valuable, it is tragic rubbish,” Leakey said, waving an ivory carving seized from a smuggler, the tiny tusk of a baby elephant.

“It is putting at risk our heritage… you can regrow a crop but you cannot regrow a wildlife species that disappears.”

This article can be found in this link:

http://gulfnews.com/news/world/other-world/counting-the-cost-of-east-africa-s-poaching-economy-1.1307699

Court of appeal halts release of blood ivory (Uganda)

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa

Mar 06, 2014
Justice Kenneth Kakuru came to the rescue of the reputation of Uganda’s judiciary when he granted an injunction to the applicants Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Revenue Authority, halting the release of blood ivory the two organizations confiscated last year. Judge Masalu Musene last week, in a ruling which deeply upset conservationists and was felt as an extraordinary act of miscarriage of justice, released the ivory back to a Congolese owner, who, though not in court and wanted by a domestic and Interpol arrest warrant, had applied to court to get his illicit cargo released. Musene, it is understood from reliably sources, is already now subject to an unfolding process of judicial review and according to another source also subject to a potential criminal enquiry, over how he arrived at his ruling, with allegations flying high at this stage.

UWA and URA appealed the ruling and Uganda’s Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Maria Mutagamba, also condemned Musene’s ruling in the strongest possible terms, setting in motion a process to remove him from the bench for gross misconduct, if proven guilty of any offence.

The latest twist in this saga was immediately hailed as a huge success by the conservation fraternity in Uganda and like in Kenya, where weak rulings under the new wildlife law caused widespread outrage, also seen as serving notice to magistrates and judges to either join in the fight against poaching or else be treated themselves as poachers of common sense and the tools available to them under existing laws.

Illegal wildlife trade undermines security across nations

By PrairieDogPress

Mar 04, 2014

In the lead-up to Monday’s first-ever World Wildlife Day sanctioned by the United Nations, President Barack Obama laid out a three-pronged plan in mid-February to fight poaching, illegal trade of ivory and other animal parts; not only to stop needless slaughter of imperiled wildlife, but to stem corruption.

Excerpt from Obama’s statement from the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking letter said:

“Like other forms of illicit trade, wildlife trafficking undermines security across nations. Well-armed, well-equipped, and well-organized networks of criminals and corrupt officials exploit porous borders and weak institutions to profit from trading in poached wildlife. Record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years.”

In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and Attorney General Eric Holder, worked together and penned an op-ed published in National Geographic March 3, to coincide with the first World Wildlife Day.

They warned of threats by organized criminal rings that show no mercy toward animal or human life, since park rangers have been murdered by the dozens trying to protect majestic wildlife, like rhinos and  elephants, from being killed and butchered.

A vast underground network of sophisticated “nefarious criminal elements” continues to grow their million-dollar business, which threatens national economies, the integrity of park, port and court officials, while whole communities fear for their lives.

Furthermore, iconic wildlife—particularly elephants, being killed at an estimated rate of sometimes 95 per day—face extinction in the evolutionary blink of an eye.

Time is urgent, wrote Kerry, Jewell and Holder:

“We must act now. Last month, the President announced his National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. Our three co-chairing agencies—the Departments of State, Justice, and Interior—are leading the President’s whole-of-government fight against wildlife trafficking by pursuing a three-pronged strategy: strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships internationally and domestically with local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat wildlife poaching and illegal trade.”

Meanwhile, the US, Hong Kong, Kenya, Gabon, Chad, France and China are among nations that have embarked on an ivory-destruction campaign that has resulted in tons of illegal ivory being ground to dust, burned or otherwise eliminated from the possibility of theft.

In related news, the US has the only animal forensic lab in the world located in Ashland, Ore., which is capable of using high-tech crime scene investigation methods to track down wildlife killers.

The US Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory utilizes a crack team of scientists who use investigative measures similar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including DNA-gathering and fingerprint recovery.

“In a wildlife crime laboratory your evidence is often a carcass,” said Ken Goddard, the lab‘s director in a previous National Geographic interview. “We get pieces and parts—hides, furs, shoes, purses, ivory carvings and a lot of caviar. When you start getting into the small pieces; strips of leather for watch band, chunks of meat, carvings of ivory, you’ve lost all those species-defining characteristics that made that evidence obviously from an elephant or a bear, for example.”

The lab recently destroyed its cache of ivory tusks held in evidence.

The US and China are huge markets for ivory products, but there are seemingly limitless world marketplaces imbued with things made of animal fur, skin, feathers and entrails that could be from endangered wildlife.

So, everyone is encouraged to do their part and refrain from buying ivory jewelry or trinkets, tiger rugs, shark fin soup, medicinal products made from bear bile or anything else suspicious.

Only mankind can help stop this disgrace of humanity.

Police Issues Arrest Warrants Seized Ivory Dealers

Stephen Muneza, RedPepper
March 3, 2014

Police has issued two arrest warrants for two businessmen connected to the 832 pieces of ivory that were impounded by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in October last year.

The arrest warrants have been issued against a Kenyan national Owino Odhiambo, who owns Silver Shipping Limited, a Kenyan registered company that was destined to receive the ivory and also export it to China.

The second arrest warrant is for a Congolese national Kayumba Emile Ogane. Ogane claimed the impounded ivory while it was with the URA. Ogane is the director of Ogane Company Limited which instituted the proceedings in the High Court at Nakawa. Ogane has however never appeared in person in Uganda.

The two arrest warrants have been forwarded to Interpol to arrest and bring the persons for prosecution.

They are wanted for the concealment of ivory that was smuggled through the DRC-Uganda border post of Bunagana. It is alleged that the Ivory was not declared to the customs officials at the border post. The 2.9 tonnes of ivory were being transported in a Congolese trailer registration number CGO 6816 AB19.

Congolese businessman Emile Ogano hired David Ochaya to be his transport agent. Ochaya then used Ocean Freight East Africa Limited containers and delivered the ivory undocumented to the inland container depot at Bweyogerere. While arguing the case before the Nakawa High Court, the lawyers of Emile Ogane said that their client had concealed the goods to hide them from the naked eye of the robbers, an argument that the court judge Masalu Musene accepted.
Last month, the judge ordered URA to return the impounded ivory to Ogane.

Interpol Director Arsan Kasingye said Interpol would embark on the search of the suspects to deliver them to the arms of Justice.

The environmental crime desk of Interpol in Lyon, France has since expressed concern at the fate of the ivory.

To import and export ivory, one has to get a licence from the home country and also a permit to trade in ivory from CITES or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

In October last year, URA impounded a container of 822 pieces of ivory; approximately 2.9 tonnes. The ivory was destined to go to Owino Odhiambo, a Kenyan national. After it was impounded, a Congolese national, Kayumba Emile Ogane claimed the ivory from the URA and instituted a suit for its release. In a landmark ruling, the high court Judge Masalu Musene ordered for its release, a judgement that has been widely contested by both the Uganda Wildlife Authority and URA.

URA has lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal.

Police to defy court ruling on impounded ivory

By Jeff Andrew Lule, New Vision

Mar 03, 2014

Police plan to block the return of a consignment of seized ivory to a dealer as instructed by Justice Wilson Masalu Musene.

On Friday, the director of Interpol Uganda, Asan Kasingye said despite the court’s ruling, they will not allow to release the ivory easily in respect of Uganda’s commitment towards the conservation of the endangered species within the East African Customs and international convention.

Uganda Revenue Authority impounded 836 pieces of ivory in October last year, weighing approximately 3000kgs. The ivory was concealed in a container belonging to Ken Freight Forwarders in Bweyogerere, Wakiso district at the time of seizure.

Kasingye said though the owner Emille Kayumba Ogane, a Congolese national, claims to have imported the ivory from Congo through Bunagana border post lawfully, they need him to come and clearly explain how and where he got the ivory.

“It is very unfair to make such a ruling because someone claimed to have got the ivory from elsewhere. The world was very surprised with the ruling and all eyes are watching us. Can you imagine over 400 elephants were killed to get this ivory,” Kasingye said.

Kasingye stressed that the trade in ivory contravenes with the East African Customs Management Act 2004 and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species that puts stringent conditions on dealing in such endangered species.

“We think this case needed more time to work with all stakeholders before coming to a conclusion,” he noted.

UWA And URA Appeal Court Ruling On Impounded Ivory

Uganda Radio Network

March 1, 2014

In a statement issued to the media, Dr. Maria Mutagamba, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities says the decision by the High Court judge is against the laws in a country that outlaws trade in ivory and other protected species.
Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Revenue Authority have lodged an appeal against the Nakawa High Court ruling ordering the tax body to release 2.9 tones of impounded ivory to Emile Kasumba Ogane. On October 17th, 2013, URA impounded a container with 832 pieces Ivory at Ken freight Inland Container Depot-ICD in Bweyogerere. The consignment was taken to URA customs stores for safe custody pending investigations of the matter and possible reprimand of the culprits.

Police was also notified for purposes of investigation to find the source of the ivory and have the people involved arrested and prosecuted. Preliminary investigations led by police Owino Odhiambo, Kenya national and a Congolese national Emille Kayumba Ogane. The Kampala Chief Magistrates court at Kampala issued arrest warrants for the said suspects and the police and other security agencies are still searching for the whereabouts of the suspects for purposes of effecting arrest.

UWA accused the suspects of acquiring or having possession of prohibited goods contrary to Section 200(d)(i) of the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004, and Being in illegal possession of wildlife protected species without permission contrary to the provisions of the Uganda wildlife Act. However, through Geoffrey Nagumya and Company Advocates, Ogane filed an application in court demanding the release of his ivory consignment arguing that he had a license to trade in the contraband goods from DR Congo government.

He also argued that the impounded Ivory was in transit to Mombasa and therefore could not be affected by the East African Customs Regulations and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In his ruling on Monday, Justice Wilson Masalu Musene concurred with the applicant and ordered for the unconditional release of the 832 pieces of ivory. However, the ruling didn’t go down well with Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Revenue Authority who said they could not allow the decision to go unchallenged.

In a statement issued to the media, Dr. Maria Mutagamba, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities says the decision by the High Court judge is against the laws in a country that outlaws trade in ivory and other protected species. She says the decision also goes against the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. She says a team of lawyers from both UWA and URA have already launched an appeal. Mutagamba says their lawyers have also applied for an injunction to stay the execution of the court order.

Below is the full statement;

MINISTRY OF TOURISM, WILDLIFE AND ANTIQUITIES

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE RULING OF JUSTICE WILSON MASALU MUSENE IN MISCELLANEOUS CAUSE NO.49 OF 2013 KAYUMBA EMILE OGANE VS UGANDA REVENUE AUTHORITY OVER IVORY TRAFFICKING

We have received with shock; the ruling of Justice Wilson Masalu Musene that Uganda Revenue Authority should hand over confiscated ivory to their owners (criminal suspects who are on the run and have arrest warrants issued against them). The sector is in great shock over the ruling.
This case was filed by one Kayumba Emile Ogane against URA seeking orders for release of 832 pieces of Ivory confiscated by URA, that the Uganda Police, Uganda wildlife Authority and all other authorities in Uganda give effect to the release order.
Background to this case
On 17th October 2013, we received information from URA that a container with 832 Ivory had been discovered at Ken freight Inland Container Deposit (ICD) Bweyogerere. We immediately sent a team of law enforcement officers and wildlife experts from Uganda Wildlife Authority in company of police, who confirmed that the items were indeed ivory. The consignment was then taken to URA customs stores for safe custody pending the investigations of the matter and possible reprimand of the culprits.
The matter was accordingly reported to police for purposes of investigation to find the source of the ivory and to have the people involved arrested and prosecuted. The suspects identified by the preliminary findings were Owino Odhiambo (Kenyan national) and Kayumba Emille Ogane (Congolese national) who are still at large. The Chief Magistrates court at Kampala issued arrest warrants for the said suspects and the police and other security agencies are still searching for the whereabouts of these suspects for purposes of effecting arrest.

Offences committed by the suspects
Acquiring or having possession of prohibited goods contrary to Section 200(d)(i) of the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004,
Being in illegal possession of wildlife protected species without permission contrary to the provisions of the Uganda wildlife Act.
Status of the Criminal case
The investigations were completed, the file was sanctioned for prosecution, an agent of Kayumba Ogane, one Ocaya David was arraigned before court for prosecution as an accomplice to the commission of these offences under this matter, but was released on bail.
The main suspects Owino Odhiambo (Kenyan national) and Kayumba Emille Ogane (Congolese national) are still at large and the police and other security agencies are looking for them including Interpol and LATF.
At national level, Uganda as sovereign State, prohibited any dealing in wildlife species and specimens without permission and specifically prohibits possession, trade, import, export, re-export and re-import of wildlife products and species including ivory.
Elephants are listed among the highly endangered wildlife species under the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to which Uganda is party and bound by the resolutions. Any unauthorized trade in ivory and other related products is prohibited.
High Court Miscellaneous Cause No.49 of 2013 Kayumba Emile Ogane Vs Uganda Revenue Authority
As a ploy to defeat the efforts of the various agencies in investigating the illegal possession and purported transportation of illegal ivory, and to frustrate the prosecution of the offenders in the above case, the suspects through their lawyers decided to file the above suit seeking for unconditional release of the said ivory.
Hon. Justice Wilson Masalu Musene unfortunately agreed with the applicant that the ivory was unlawfully confiscated and ordered that the same be immediately released.
It is however very unfortunate and dismaying that such a ruling would be given with total disregard to the requirements of the law before such consignments can be allowed to transit which were never complied with.
It is also important to note that any import, export or re-export of wildlife species require clearance by the relevant countries Management and Scientific authority CITES which is the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities and Uganda Wildlife Authority respectively but which was never complied with. It is a legal requirement that any import, export or re-export of any wildlife species and or specimens through Uganda requires clearance by both Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities which I represent.
The suspect concealed the said goods and never declared to URA at customs points and only disguised the same as coffee meant for export. If the ruling of the honorable Justice is implemented, it will contravene the law and will cause absurdity to conservation as it will be setting terrible precedent by giving poachers and illegal wildlife traders a blanket protection.
Conclusion
We are very dismayed by the said Judgment and the likely implications it has for Uganda as a contracting Party to CITES Convention. But most importantly, the damage this has on tourism development and wildlife conservation in Uganda.
A team of lawyers of Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Revenue Authority have already filed a notice of Appeal to challenge the Judgment
Application for an interim order to stay execution of the judgment and filing of the appeal will also be immediately done.
We shall decisively pursue the criminal prosecution of suspects (Owners of the confiscated ivory) until they are brought to book. Security Agencies continue to pursue these suspects who are at large.
I want to call upon all the organs of the State to proactively support Government effort to stamp out illegal wildlife trade and trade and trafficking in order to conserve our heritage and its associated tourism development which is a vehicle for social transformation of our economy.
For God and My Country

Hon. Dr. Maria Mutagamba
Minister

Uganda: China Joins War Against Illegal Trade in Ivory

By Simon Musasizi, The Observer

16 January 2014

The fight to save Africa’s elephants has reached China, arguably the biggest market for ivory – the single most important reason the giant beast is quickly becoming an endangered species.

China recently destroyed six tons of confiscated ivory, raising hopes for progress in the war against illicit trade in the commodity, most of which comes from Africa. The destruction of the ivory took place in Dongguan city in the southern province of Guangdong, a major hub for the ivory trade.

The statistics tell a much deeper story. In 1930, there were between five and ten million wild African elephants; by 1990, when they were added to the list of critically endangered species, only about 600,000 remained. By 2009, the elephants in Africa stood at 500,000. Most fingers have been pointed at China as part of the reason behind this decline. China’s rapid economic growth continues to build a burgeoning middle class that can afford–and is demanding greater quantities for ivory.

Recent surveys indicate that a large portion of China’s population is unaware of the death toll to create ivory and rhino horn products. Many think ivory is grown on trees in Africa; they have no idea that their current demand for ivory is estimated to claim the lives of as many as 35,000 African elephants annually.

“Excess demand for ivory is the root of the elephant poaching crisis. All other efforts to stop the killing of elephants will be useless if the world doesn’t stop buying ivory. China’s leadership could save Africa’s elephants,” said Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton, CEO of Save the Elephants, in a press statement issued by Brian Adams, WildAid US Communications Director.

In the statement, WildAid, Save the Elephants, and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), applauded China’s decision as a way of sending out a message to Chinese of how devastating their luxury has had on the African wildlife. In 2013, the NGOs, along with former NBA superstar Yao Ming and actress Li Bing Bing, called on China to raise awareness about elephant poaching, to reduce the demand for ivory, and protect endangered wildlife.

“The demand for illegally-traded ivory negatively impacts Africa’s tourism industry and reportedly contributes to funds used by terror and insurgent groups,” said WildAid’s Executive Director Peter Knights.

WildAid spearheaded a campaign in 2006 to reduce the demand for shark fin soup in China. Through its partnership with Save the Elephants and AWF, similar public awareness tactics are being used to inform consumers of the impact of ivory demand.

“As the largest ivory market in the world, China has a significant role to play in combating the illegal trade in ivory,” said AWF’s CEO Patrick Bergin.

“We commend the Chinese government for taking this important first step and hope it signals their sincere and growing commitment to help end the elephant slaughter in Africa.”

Uganda has faced its fair share of illegal trade in ivory. Last year, cases of confiscated ivory were on the rise, with the biggest catch coming from Bweyogerere, where Uganda Revenue Authority impounded ivory amounting to 1,903kg (worth Shs 6.4bn) in containers destined for Mombasa. The consignment had 832 pieces of ivory, which means that about 416 elephants were killed.

Later, some Chinese and Guineans were arrested with 116kg of ivory at Entebbe airport. Towards the end of 2013, another consignment of about 1,000kg was impounded at Entebbe airport. Earlier there were other several cases around Fort Portal town, which is situated close to some national parks.

According to Abiaz Rwamwiri, AWF Uganda’s communication officer, AWF has launched dual public awareness campaigns aimed at combating illegal wildlife trafficking from the suppliers and the buyers.

“‘African Voices for Wildlife’ is taking place in Africa; the ‘Say No’ campaign is focused in Asia,” he said.

The campaign, which will be popularised through advertisements on billboards, at airports, on buses, among others, will prominently feature Africans expressing outrage, distress and sorrow about the current poaching epidemic and the impact this could have on them and future generations.