URA Hands Over 7,421Kgs Of Ivory And Other Items To Uganda Wildlife
Moses Oketayot, Red Pepper
August 3, 2022
Uganda Revenue Authority has underscored the need for inter–agency
co-operation and international co-operation for essential protection of
certain species of wild fauna and flora against over-exploitation through
international trade that are poached for their body parts.
This need was stressed by Abel Kagumire, the Commissioner for Customs at
URA at the Nakwa headquarters on Tuesday as the Authority handed over a
total of 7,421Kgs of wildlife items that included 6,616.45kgs of ivory,
Pangolin scales 766.35kgs, Hippo teeth 11.1kg, three python skins, one lion
skin, two jars of a lion, 20 buffalo horns, and a head of a python to
Uganda wildlife Authority for safe custody, that were seized by URA between
Kagumire added that Wildlife consists of endangered species that ought to
be protected in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Signed at Washington,
D.C., on 3 March 1973.
In addition to the other traditionally known roles of Customs, has the
duty and responsibility to enforce the national, regional and international
laws that either restrict or prohibit Trade in endangered species as
prescribed in the CITES convention.
This duty is executed in close coordination at strategic, tactical and
operational level with other Government Agencies, which include Uganda
Wildlife Authority, National Forest Authority, and the Security Agencies.
In a bid to strengthen inter-agency coordination, a JPCU was established by
a cooperation framework signed in the year 2015, with the assistance of
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
This consists of Uganda Police Force, Uganda Wildlife Authority and
Customs, with its HQs established at Nakawa URA offices in the year 2017.
The three agencies has together benefited from the joint capacity building
exercises facilitated by UNODC, the joint planning, joint interventions,
and utilization of the shared resources like the office premises, the
computers hand held scanners, etc. as donated by the UNODC.
As the lead Agency, Customs took the responsibility of seizure and
subsequently storage of the above in the Customs warehouse pending the
handover of the same to the competent Authority (UWA) for further
On how the items will be disposed, Kagumire had this to say: “We are
looking forward to our involvement as key stakeholders in the final
disposal of the same so that they do not get back to the very hands we
seized the items from.”
To detect concealment of such products, the Customs department has procured
and deployed cargo scanners at all major border crossing points of Malaba,
Busia, Mutukula, Mirama, Elegu, Entebbe, and Katuna with a view to further
improve on our capacity to detect concealment of such products among the
timber and other products for export to the middle and Far East.
Kagumire further expressed gratitude to UNODC for sponsoring the joint
training exercises, UWA for the technical support in our field operations,
all the security organs, the Customs department and all the stakeholders
for the joint effort put in the exercise.
Charles Tumwesigye; the deputy director field operations at Uganda Wildlife
Authority, while receiving the items thanked URA for the cooperation and
coordination over the years not only in the area of seizures but also other
areas. He said that URA is a strong member of the national wildlife crime
He said that UWA will keep the items in their inventory for safe custody,
and make sure that no one tampers with them. Disposal of the items is
awaiting a cabinet decision according to Tumwesigye.
Tumwesigye said that Entebbe Airport used to be a key transit route, but
the installation of non-intrusive scanners, use of sniffer dogs and
intelligence has made it hard for the criminals as he added: “It is very
difficult now. You cannot pass any item at Entebbe airport because if the
scanners of URA miss, the dogs will not miss, and intelligence will not
miss detecting it.”