The U.S. has trained Ugandan authorities in wildlife crime to build their capacity to protect the country’s natural heritage and to combat illicit trafficking that threatens both Uganda’s abundant wildlife and security.
The donation of 10 wildlife crime scene investigation kits by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will assist several Ugandan agencies in their mission to combat wildlife-related crimes throughout the country.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the Uganda Police Force (UPF), and the Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) were among the beneficiaries of this donation, and also received training in forensic investigation techniques. Law enforcement and forensic science experts from the US Fish and Wildlife Service trained 17 investigators from UWA, UPF and NRCN.
A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Kampala said the week-long training took place near Murchison Falls National Park, and it was done with support from the Uganda Conservation Foundation. In the training, experts helped participants develop the skills to conduct wildlife crime scene investigations, including collecting evidence and preserving the chain of custody.
The wildlife crime scene investigation kits donated by USAID, contain materials necessary for collecting and preserving evidence from wildlife crime scenes, which is crucial for the successful prosecution of wildlife crimes.
“Wildlife crime is a threat not just to conservation, but to the security and livelihoods of Uganda’s people,” said USAID Mission Director Mark Meassick.
“This partnership allows us to share the expertise of U.S. conservation professionals to help enhance Uganda’s wildlife management and enforcement capacities, improve national and international coordination, and share best practices.”
Wildlife trafficking remains a significant problem for Uganda. In 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Standing Committee named Uganda one of the leading nations responsible for illegal ivory trade.
Between 2009 and 2014, some 20 metric tons of ivory were trafficked through Uganda, mainly to Asia. The country’s continued role as a transit hub for illegal trafficking also exposes it to the negative effects of organized crime and corruption.
The training workshop and donation of the wildlife crime scene kits are the first steps in a planned program of training and technical assistance in combating wildlife crime to be implemented.