Africa: Ugandan court sentences wildlife trafficker to life in prison for illegal possession of elephant ivory

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A Ugandan ivory trader Ochiba Pascal has been sentenced to life in prison for illegal possession of wildlife products, including two pieces of elephant ivory weighing a total of 9.55 kilograms. Ochiba was arrested on January 18, 2022, in Namuwongo zone, Kampala.

According to Eturbo News, while sentencing Ochiba, the Chief Magistrate of the Standards, Utilities and Wildlife Court, Her Worship Gladys Kamasanyu said that offences of unlawful possession of protected species are rampant and there is need to curb them down. She said that Uganda is home to the world’s most known wildlife ranging from iconic mammals like elephants to small ones like pangolins, and all of them need to be protected.

She noted that the Ochiba was habitual offender having been charged in 2017 with two counts of unlawful possession of protected species and convicted by the same court. She said that leaving Ochiba in circulation increases the risk of killing of endangered species, noting that he deserves a sentence that will contribute to making the world a safer place for wildlife and humans.

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On July 4, 2017, Ochiba was arrested from Namuwongo after being found with four pieces of ivory and a dry skin of an Okapi without a valid use permit and was sentenced to eighteen months in jail on both counts which he served concurrently. The Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Sam Mwandha has described the sentence as a landmark achievement in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

“We are happy to see the maximum sentence being handed to a wildlife offender. This is a landmark achievement in our war on illegal wildlife trade in Uganda. We must do our best in our times to protect our wildlife otherwise history will judge us harshly,” he said.

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