KAMPALA, Uganda: Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Country Director, Dr. Simon T. Nampindo delivered a lecture to 45 mid-level management police officers, including police commanders, officers-in-charge, heads of departments, detectives and operation officers attending an Intermediate Command and Management Staff Course 005/2020-2021 at the Police Senior Command and Staff College (PSCSC) in Bwebajja, Kampala. The lecture focused on the role of wildlife conservation in national development with an emphasis on threats, challenges and opportunities.
“Owing to Uganda’s porous borders, weak law enforcement and deterrent penalties, the country became an attractive trafficking route for illegal wildlife products from central, west, south and east Africa en-route to Asia. This makes the role of law enforcement very critical in combating illegal wildlife trade,” said Dr. Nampindo. Simon also shared an overview of Uganda’s rich biodiversity that ranks it among the top ten most bio-diverse countries in the world: Uganda has 54% of the world’s remaining population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) located in Southwestern Uganda, 50% of Africa’s bird species (11% of the world’s recorded species); 39% of Africa’s mammals (7.8% of global mammal diversity), 19% of Africa’s amphibian species; 14% of Africa’s reptile species, 1,249 species of butterflies, and 600 species of fish (Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Kampala: 2016 Annual Sector Performance Report).
However, Uganda’s biodiversity faces enormous threats, including illegal wildlife trade (IWT) that have triggered WCS and other conservation organizations, with support from donor partners to implement various initiatives to combat it. Some of these activities, include building the capacity of Uganda Wildlife Authority to enhance detection of illegal wildlife trade using sniffer dogs stationed at Entebbe International Airport; supporting the establishment of a 13-member inter-agency national taskforce: National Wildlife Crime Coordination Taskforce (NWCCTF), of which the Uganda Police Force is a member, support Uganda Wildlife Authority to rollout and apply the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) to improve anti-poaching efforts and law enforcement effectiveness in key conservation areas, and developing an Online Wildlife Offenders Database (OWODAT) to improve prosecution of wildlife crime. WCS engaged the Chinese Enterprises operating in Uganda to strengthen their international policies, including Human Resources, zero tolerance to IWT and wildlife trafficking in order to reduce ivory demand. WCS is also working in collaboration with Uganda Police Force (UPF) and Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) to train Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) staff in investigations, and intelligence gathering, analysis and management.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Mr. Fred Nantamu, directing the Staff training activities at the PSCSC, “the training has raised the awareness of police officials about wildlife conservation and highlighted the critical role that the Police Force play in conserving, maintaining and protecting wildlife, a major contributor to Uganda’s economy – the top foreign exchange earner for Uganda before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to working closely with WCS to create champions within the Police force who support UWA in protecting our natural heritage.”