Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) on 3rd, September, 2021, received a customised canine land cruiser vehicle from African Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Society with funding from USAID to facilitate mobility of dogs and their handlers based at Karuma in Murchison Falls.
The vehicle was received by the UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandha together with Deputy Director Field Operations Charles Tumwesigye The vehicle is to be used by the Canine Unit to cover northern Uganda and the vast part of West Nile to mitigate wildlife trafficking. The vehicle was handed over by Geoffrey Muwedde Chief of Party Wildlife Conservation Society and Robert Senkungu who represented the Country Director African Wildlife Foundation.
Geoffrey Mawedde in his handover over remarks noted that wildlife crime is a matter of international concern that involves organised syndicates linked to financial crimes. He was therefore grateful that the government of Uganda has doubled efforts to support the fight against illegal wildlife trade. “We now see results such as the two canine units in the country so far. Many people are now scared to go through Entebbe airport with contraband because the dogs are positioned strategically to sniff it out. They therefore keep looking for alternative routes,” he said. He was happy with the establishment of Karuma canine unit route because it is a good area that can be used to smuggle contraband through to/from the country.
Robert Senkungu on behalf of AWF was happy that the unit is now up and running after numerous efforts were put together to see it function. “We are happy this is now up and running. This is yet another milestone we are witnessing in the handover of a vehicle with funding through USAID to combat wildlife crime. I Implore UWA to continue with the great efforts of conservation of wildlife for generation to come,” he said
The ED UWA Sam Mwandha extended his appreciation to the two institutions for their partnership and pledged to put the resources to good use. He revealed that UWA is looking at the long-time sustainability plan to ensure that the project still remains strong to achieve its intended objectives when the funding period expires. “Donor funding is for a specific time and therefore UWA needs to take up the operations challenge in the long run. This vehicle is crucial for the mobility of the dogs because it helps them get to any place where illegal activities are detected. This will help a lot to mitigate the wildlife crime.” The ED noted that the canine unit has been running effectively since its establishment with a number of arrests made as a result. He added that the next step is to get trackers geared towards crime prevention.
The Karuma Canine Unit is expected to strengthen intelligence led operations and reduce wildlife crime in the area.