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ABIM IVORY DEALER GETS 20 YEARS JAIL SENTENCE

By Mulengera Reporter

David Awili, 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 Shs12m for being found in possession of 41.38kgs of ivory. The suspect was sentenced on March 10, 2020 by Chief Magistrate, Ms. Mariam Ayo Okello of the Utilities, Standard and Wildlife Court at Buganda Road.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) prosecution team lead by Ms. Gladys Akello 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 Executive Director, Mr. 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 2019 is now biting and its prosecution success rate has been perfect from September 2019 when it came into force,” said Mr. Mwandha. He urged Ugandans to join hands with UWA and protect Uganda’s wildlife instead of decimating it.

Awili was arrested by UWA team of the Special Wildlife Crime Unit on February 20, 2021 in Lira City in possession of four pieces of raw ivory without any valid user right.

Status of Elephant Protection

According to the IUCN red list of threatened species, the elephant is classified as a vulnerable species 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 with other herds in protected areas like Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley. The recovery of elephant numbers from only about 2000 in the 1980s to the current 8342 is largely attributed to the successful protection efforts implemented by UWA, improved legislation and conservation policies. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

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