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Pastors held over illicit wildlife trade

One of the pangolin heads found in possession of the suspects

Police is holding two pastors from Nansana in Wakiso district for their alleged involved in illicit wildlife trade.

Pastors John Kiiza and Christopher Kato together with a Congolese national, Prince Kazanga were arrested from Busabala road in Makindye division on Monday with 13 kilograms of ivory, 17 kilograms of pangolin scales and eight pangolin horns.

The suspects are being held under CRB REF/63/30/09/16 at Kampala central police station (CPS).

“We have found animal materials in one of their houses that suggest that the three suspects are part of a transnational gang that is dealing in ivory in the country,” said Chris Ahimbisibwe, the officer in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department at Kampala CPS. 

Adding: “This is an indication that almost five elephants, four pangolins were killed to get the animal trophies from them,” adding that, “Police has launched an investigation to identify where the three suspects were taking the animal trophies and the exact place they got them.”
 
Police and officials from the Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) acted on a tip off from concerned residents who knew about the illicit wildlife trade. The suspects were in the process of selling off the items to a local businessman, who is currently on the run at Shs 70m.

Demand for pangolin meat as a delicacy is high among the newly affluent parts of China and in Vietnam, while the animal’s scales have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for unproven health benefits.

The illicit capture and trade in pangolin scales has been on the increase in Uganda because of the attractive market in China.

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