By Spy Uganda
Chief Magistrate His Worship Okumu Jude Muwone in a Kampala court last week sentenced Mubiru Erikana, wildlife poacher, to 14 years in prison for being in possession of a protected wildlife specimen upon his plea of guilty.
On November 13, 2021, Mubiru aged 50, a resident of Kisungu village, Kamuluri parish, Nyakatonzi sub-county, Kasese District in Uganda, was arrested by police at a checkpoint near Katunguru trading center along the Kasese-Mbarara highway in possession of 25 skins of wild cats, one skin of a monitor lizard, and pangolin scales.
Upon arrest, he was taken to the Katunguru Police station and later taken to court where he was charged with being in possession of wild species without authority. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) prosecution team led by Buyuya Ibrahim told the court that the act of killing wildlife reduces government revenue from a sector that earns the country foreign exchange.
UWA shares park gate collections with communities neighboring the park, he explained, adding that Mubiru Erikana was a well-known poacher in his village who has severally eluded arrest. He prayed for a deterrent sentence that sends a clear signal to the community and other would-be wildlife offenders that such acts are heavily punishable.
The Chief Magistrate sentenced Mubiru Erikana to a deterrent custodial sentence of 14 years to allow him time to reform. He noted that there was need to send a clear signal to the community and remind them that it’s their role to protect and conserve wildlife for the present and future generations. He said that it was wrong for the convict to kill 7 animals for his own personal benefit, saying such acts can deplete the wildlife if not checked.
The Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Sam Mwandha, welcomed the sentencing of Mubiru Erikana saying that poaching steals from us all and it should not be allowed to thrive. “We should fight poaching and jealously guard our wildlife heritage for not only us but the generations to come. We hope that the sentence has sent a message to those who want to engage in wildlife crime,” he said.