By Titus Kakembo
Rich armed poachers are costing East Africa millions of dollars in illegal ivory trade. The illegal trade is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used in traditional medicine and to make ornaments.
Uganda and her sister states in the East African region account for 68% of the illegal ivory trade in the world, according to a 2012 report released at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered species (CITES) at Bangkok, Thailand.
Uganda is mostly a conduit route for ivory from neighbouring countries such as the DRC, Tanzania and Kenya.
An elephant gives birth to a single calf after 22 months. Today there are 140,000 elephants in East Africa.
Uganda has about 5,000 elephants down from 60,000 in the 1970s. The total African elephant population is estimated at 650,000, across 37 countries.
Large shipments of illegal ivory are always encountered, suggesting a well-developed network which is well resourced. Other small time dealers process the product and ship them in briefcases or pouches.
In 2012 nearly 1,500kg of ivory were intercepted in Kenya having entered the country through Uganda en-route to Malaysia.
In July 2012, Uganda Revenue Authority impounded 69 pieces of ivory as they were being cleared at Entebbe International Airport. More....