80 rangers were selected by UWA to take part in an intelligence course conducted for them by leading intelligence experts from the Uganda People’s Defense Force, to form the core of a new unit tasked with gathering information on poaching, illegal trade, smuggling of wildlife, birds and reptiles and the illicit game meat trade, among other functions.
The 80 were passed out earlier this week at the army’s school of military intelligence and security in Fort Portal, Western Uganda, where UWA’s executive director Dr. Andrew Seguya said: ‘The biggest challenge we have been having is collecting information. You may have a strong force but without information, you can’t achieve a lot. You can never have enough boots on the ground because we [have to\ control about 10 per cent of the country’s total surface [being protected areas like national parks and game reserves\. This step [The formation of an UWA Intelligence Unit\ will go a long way in combating illegal activities in our parks’.
Seguya then went on to speak on the deployment of the newly trained officers and added: ‘We will first take care of the most vulnerable spots. These are parks near the borders. We want to break the back of the poaching rings – because it is a well-coordinated business with funders from South East Asia’ leaving no doubt where in his mind, and in the opinion of the entire conservation fraternity in Uganda, the core of the problem of poaching is rooted.
The newly passed out intelligence officers, 15 of whom are female it was pointed out to this correspondent, learned techniques to analyze intelligence information aimed at ensuring the security of wildlife and tourists. The course unit included training in operational intelligence, counter terrorism, political education and criminal investigation, among others. More courses for selected UWA rangers have already been agreed in order to strengthen the new team and allow for effectively covering all the protected areas across the country. Well done UWA and congratulations to the 80 graduates.