UWA Excesses Checked By Court

Court has blocked Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) from issuing licenses for exportation of Pangolin scales.



The High Court Civil Division Deputy Registrar Festo Nsenga issued a temporary injunction yesterday after a civil society organization Green Watch convinced court that Pangolins were facing eminent danger of extinction.

“A temporary order doth issue restraining the respondent (UWA), their servants or agents, assignee, licensees or anyone acting under their authority from issuing licenses for exportation of Pangolin scales,” Nsenga noted in his order issued yesterday.

The registrar noted that Interim order applications are based on urgency and court cannot thus have the luxury of indulging in technical questions of law.

This was after Green Watch Lawyers; Ms. Sumayah Kasule and Ms. Samantha Atukunda convinced court that there was an urgent need to have the issuance of the license halted as there was an eminent danger for the recently impounded Pangolin scales to be exported.

She said they had already filed a case challenging the legality of UWA’s decision to issue licenses for exporting the scales and they had also filed an application for a temporary injunction which is already fixed for April 20, 2015 meaning that part of the requirement for issuance of a temporary injunction had been fulfilled.

Ms. Kasule told court that UWA had been issuing licences and that the last licence to be issued expired on January 22, 2015.

At the time of securing this court order, 7,310Kgs of pangolin scales valued at $4.2m (Ush11b) were pending exportation by a company called Smico Skin Craft Industries Limited which UWA had granted the licence to export.

The director of this said company Smith Ewa Maku had turned up at court to be joined as a party to this case which Nsenga declined.

Maku told journalists outside court that he was granted license to export the Pangolin scales on July 4, 2014, but it expired on January 22, 2015 before he could export.

“All the paper work is done. I am in touch with the buyers and I am supposed to export before the end of March. If I am not allowed to export it means I will be sued by the people I have already entered into agreement with abroad and I will incur losses,” he said.

He further said that Uganda had no technology of extracting medicine from Pangolin scales so he had got in contact with people in the Asia who were going to take this consignment of 7,310Kgs.

This he says was going to be his way of convincing them to come and set up a factory here. The pangolin is a scaly ant-eater (Manis penta-dactyla dalmanni) whose demand for its carcass makes it require more extensive protection for its conservation.

The animal itself is eaten in some regions of Asia, but its greater danger arises from the belief that its scales have medicinal value.

Its dried scales are roasted, ashed, cooked in oil, butter, vinegar, urine, or roasted with earth or oyster-shells, to cure a variety of sicknesses.

Amongst the diseases claimed to be cured by this concoction, there is excessive nervousness and hysterical crying in children, women possessed by devils and ogres, malarial fever and deafness. The need for Pangolin scales is very high in Asia.

In their defence of the licensing and opposition of the granting of this injunction, UWA lawyers; Ms. Sabilla Chemonges and Mr. Luzinda Ali maintained that issuing this injunction amounts to interfering with UWA mandate.

They said that the impounded 7,310Kgs were extracted from pangolin which had died of natural causes.

They further said that before any license is issued, various studies are conducted to ensure that the species whose body part a person wants to export is not endangered.

And that the Pangolins were not facing any danger of extinction as Green Watch wants the public to believe.

The Red Pepper confirmed that the Pangolins according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are listed as Critically Endangered Species worldwide.

Nsenga said his order will remain in force until March 9, 2015 when the judge will hear Maku’s application to be joined as a party to the case.

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