Ivory traffickers arrested in western Uganda

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The Ugandan police said Tuesday they have arrested seven traffickers in the western part of the country with seizure of ivory and hippo teeth.

Herbert Muhangi, commander of Flying Squad Unit, told reporters that acting on intelligence reports they arrested the traffickers and seized 33.3 kilograms of elephant tusks and 73.7 kilograms of hippo teeth in Rukungiri district.

“We have intensified our operations against illegal wildlife traffickers. In the last three days we managed to arrest seven suspects, impounded ivory and hippo teeth,” said Muhangi.

He said the suspects will be charged for trafficking elephant tusks and hippo teeth.
The offence is punishable by not more than five years in prison or a fine not less than the value of the wildlife product involved.

The ivory is likely to have been imported from neighboring countries such as Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Uganda is mainly used as a transit point for smugglers of wildlife products as the offenders take advantage of porous borders in Africa’s Great Lakes region to move illegal wildlife products around.

Uganda has about 5,600 elephants still left, according to government figures. Although their numbers have been rising in recent years, elephants face sporadic poaching.

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