News and updates from the Uganda Conservation Conservation Foundation
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The Uganda Conservation Foundation hands over a third anti-trafficking facility to Uganda Wildlife Authority.
On Thursday 23rd March 2017, Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) officially handed over a secure storage facility to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Kidepo Valley Conservation Area, the third facility of its kind funded by the British High Commission, Kampala.
The anti-trafficking centre enables UWA to provide secure storage for poaching exhibits such as high value illegal wildlife products, snares, traps, spears and other weapons. The facilities also include a central decommissioning workshop with tools and equipment that allow rangers to destroy these snares and traps, putting them out of circulation forever.
Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) has recently partnered with USAID to help build the capacity of Ugandan authorities to protect the country’s natural heritage and to combat illicit trafficking that threatens both Uganda’s abundant wildlife and security.
Law enforcement and forensic science experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior (the lead U.S. agency for public land management) – trained 17 investigators from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Police Force (UPF) and Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) during a recent week-long workshop near Murchison Falls National Park. With support from UCF, these experts helped participants develop the skills to conduct wildlife crime scene investigations, including collecting evidence and preserving the chain of custody. The workshop also fostered cooperation and information exchanges among the participants from UWA, UPF, and NRCN, which will help to advance future investigations.
The giant pangolin and her baby had spent the night in a secure Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) facility, having been rescued from poachers the day before by rangers. Curled up together in a protective ball, this is how the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) team found them early the next morning. Working quickly and quietly so as not to panic the animals any further in this alien environment, the rangers eased the pair into an old maize sack and placed them gently on top of a mattress in the back of the UCF pick up. These two pangolin were the latest of these armour-plated creatures retrieved alive from poachers intent on selling them illegally - for use as meat or medicine - and UCF and UWA were working together to ensure the safe release of this mother and baby.
Uganda is home to the world’s last remaining stronghold of Rothschild’s giraffe, with over 800 of these beautiful animals residing in Murchison Falls National Park. Yet the overall population trend is in decline – less than 2,500 of them are left in the world, many of which are housed within zoos or captive breeding programmes. If this continues, this elegant sub-species of giraffe will soon be classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ – meaning it faces a very real, and immediate, threat of extinction in the wild. The Murchison population represents the Rothschild’s best hope for survival – but not without its own vulnerability to the dangers of poaching, injury, or disease.
Back in 2011, Murchison Falls National Park was suffering a renewed surge of poaching. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) contacted Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) with a request to help. Animals were getting ensnared – including the Rothschild’s – and especially in the areas bordering the many waterways that surround the park. Poachers were using the river as ‘cover’, pretending to be fishermen and then moving into the park to lay thousands of wire snares. The scale of the problem was immense – in one afternoon’s patrol of the Delta in early 2012, over 300 snares were found and removed.