Makerere University student arrested for trafficking monkeys

The Territorial Police in Rwenzori East and Katwe Kabatoro Central Police Station have detained Frederick Lubega, also known as Rick, a 24-year-old Makerere University student, and Isborn Ankunda, a 28-year-old suspected wildlife trafficker from Ndejje Ward, Makindye Division, for the illegal possession of wildlife.

In total, 31 monkeys and seven Gabon vipers were handed over to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) officers

The seized animals include 22 black and white colobus monkeys (15 alive, seven dead), nine black monkeys (four alive, five dead), and seven Gabon vipers (four dead, three alive).

In total, 31 monkeys and seven Gabon vipers were handed over to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) officers for the release of the live ones into their natural habitats and the disposal of the deceased.

The wildlife was intercepted, packed in 15 boxes, in a white and green super custom vehicle with the registration number UBA 617A, on June 9 at approximately 9:45 P.M. at the Kikorongo Fisheries checkpoint.

According to Police Spokesperson SCP Fred Enanga, the animals were being transported to the DRC, from where they were exported to Europe and Asia for monetary gain.

"We strongly condemn the illicit movement of wildlife species due to its negative impact on financing organised crime gangs, biodiversity loss, public health concerns, and violation of our laws," said Enanga.

"As the Police, we reaffirm our commitment to working with our partners at UWA, border committees, customs officials, local councils, NGOs, and the private sector in combating the illegal wildlife trade, ensuring the prosecution of offenders, and promoting a safer environment for wildlife."

The police spokesperson noted that the arrest of Ankunda, a suspected trafficker, and his colleague would serve as a deterrent and increase public awareness that poaching and illegal trade in species are punishable crimes.

"Upon conviction, the offence of unlawful possession of wildlife species carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment," he stated.

The Police expressed gratitude to the joint enforcement teams in the Rwenzori Region and Kasese for their efforts in preventing wildlife trafficking.

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