Uganda will receive £1,500,000 (Shs 7bn) funding from the UK government which will go towards combating illegal trade in wildlife. The announcement was made by the UK environment minister Rory Stewart, in The Hague, Netherlands.
The funds come two years after the 2014 “London conference on illegal wildlife trade,” where heads of governments from more than 40 states recognised the significant scale and detrimental economic, social and environmental consequences of illegal trade in wildlife. They called on the international community to act together to bring this to an end.
It is from that conference that the UK committed £13 million (Shs 62bn) for four years (2014-18) towards three major areas: develop sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by illegal wildlife trade, strengthen law enforcement and the role of the criminal justice system, and reduce demand for the products of illegal wildlife trade.
Of £1,500,000 (Shs 7bn), £500,000 (Shs 2.4bn) was allocated to the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF), a non-governmental organisation that applied for the funding together with Tusk Trust, a UK conservation charity organisation.
“The project will identify and reduce the factors that push people to commit wildlife crime, via the development of sustainable livelihoods schemes and interventions that will mitigate human-wildlife conflict,” says Anne-Marie Weeden, UCF’s general manager.
“Initially, the focus will be on pilot sites amongst rural communities neighbouring Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth national parks, and incidences of wildlife crime in the surrounding area will be closely monitored to measure success.”
Weeden further notes that the funding will also help develop the capacity of the intelligence and legal sectors of Ugandan law enforcement through trainings, prosecution support and court- room monitoring, to increase arrests and convictions, particularly of those suspects higher up the value chain within the illegal wildlife trade.
The illegal wildlife trade is a serious criminal industry worth more than £6 billion each year, according to the UN convention against transnational organised crime, threatening both wild- life and people.
Seaking at the London conference, the minister of tourism, Maria Mutagamba, noted that “it is no longer a secret that illegal killings of elephants and rhinos for ivory and rhino horns in Africa has become more sophisticated with highly-organised international criminal gangs and proceeds from this illegal trade have been linked to terrorism.”