UWA Confiscates Illegal Ivory, 3 ENHAS Officials Arrested

A combined team of Police and Uganda Wildlife Authority officials has confiscated seven boxes of ivory and Pangolin skins concealed as telecommunication materials at Entebbe Airport.   

Ivory

The contraband goods were confiscated on Wednesday night at 10pm shortly after they were reportedly cleared by Entebbe Handling Services destined for Amsterdam.

According to sources, after clearance the goods were meant to be transported immediately.

However, an operative from UWA and other security personnel deployed at the airport became suspicious and decided to check the consignment before it is shipped out.

John Gesa Simplicious, the Public Relations Officer Uganda Wildlife Authority says when airport officials opened one of the boxes; they found 76 pieces of ivory and 97 kilograms of pangolin skin.

Pangolin is a toothless mammal of southern Africa and Asia having a body covered with horny scales and a long snout for feeding on ants and termites.

Gesa suspects that the ivory was on its way to one of the Asian countries where they are on high demand.  He however, says they have not identified the owner of the ivory but says their investigators are using the clearance recorders.

He says so far three officials from ENHAS have been arrested to aid investigation. Gesa says the trio was picked up because they know how they cleared the goods without checking what they were clearing.

Police and airport officials have remained tightlipped on the matter. Entebbe Handling Services has also not commented on the fate of their arrested staff.

Both UWA and police have also refused to release the identities of the arrested staff, saying it will jeopardize investigations.

Uganda has been a transit route for ivory over years. In 2013, over 5000 kilograms of ivory were confiscated in the country.

Last year conservationists were angered when the Nakawa High Court ordered the release of confiscated ivory to a Congolese businessman Emile Ogane.

The year also saw UWA coming under scrutiny when 1335 kilograms of ivory disappeared from the strong room of the organization.

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