Police Officer, Nurse Arrested For Poaching Pangolin

Felix Obera, 44, was a police officer (centre) attached to Jinja Road Station, Sylvester Omara, nursing officer and Bosco Logel, a paragel at Abim Police Station after their arrests on Saturday

Police in Abim district is holding one of their own after he was found in possession of a living pangolin and its scale estimated to be 10.1 kilograms worth 10 million shillings.

Felix Obera, 44, a police officer number CPL 40752 attached to Jinja Road Station in Kampala was arrested on Saturday by Police Flying Squad from Abim town while in a hotel.

Obera was picked after conservationists from Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) pretended to be interested buyers at one of the hotels in Abim.

Other suspects arrested in connection with the sale of poached pangolin were identified as Bosco Logel, 38, a paralegal in Abim, Sylvester Omara, 45, a Nursing Assistant attached to Koya Health Centre II, also in Abim.

At the time of arrest, Omara and Logel had booked in different hotels but within Abim town. They are currently being held at Abim Central Police Station for questioning.

Police say they will prefer two charges of; unlawful possession of a protected species contrary to sec Sections 30 and 75 (b) of the Uganda Wildlife Act CAP 200 and conspiracy to commit a felony will which is contrary to Section 390 of the Penal Code Act against the three men.

On conviction, they could serve a maximum of 7 years in the first offence and 5 in the second respectively.

Dickens Turinawe, the OC Abim Police Station says poaching is a rampant crime that police receive in the Karamoja region because of its hosting of the Kidepo Valley National Game Park.

Turinawe noted that they have embarked on community in order to reduce on the rate of poaching and illegal dealing in wildlife products.

Joshua Poro, Media Officer at Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) says at least 1,000 cases of in illegal trade in ivory, hippo teeth and pangolin is recorded annually across the country.

Poro observed that illegal trade in wildlife products is common in areas surrounding national game parks across the country driving some species to extinction.  Increased demand in China for wildlife products is blamed for the increase in poaching.