UGANDA (eTN) – The anti-hunting lobby in Uganda has taken fresh hope, following reports last week that the top management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) was suspended from office to clear the way for an investigation into alleged extortion of bribes from hunting firms.
Former conservation coordinator James Omoding left UWA by handing in his resignation a few weeks ago, effective immediately, and his bosses are now reportedly being accused of having been too lenient with him when the information became known. Omoding may still face criminal charges for allegedly having solicited bribes, but for the hunting companies this could spell doom as not just the corruptee but also the corrupter can face court action in Uganda under existing laws. Should the case end up in court, and the current new board of UWA seems determined to start their tenure with such a bang, the hunting companies could face a fine, jail, and cancellation of their agreements with UWA if found guilty.
Several anti-hunting lobbyists have been in touch with this correspondent to point out once again, that should that be proven, hunting should be prohibited immediately to make way for a long-term moratorium, which ought to be used for honest dialogue, the public evaluation of any and all data from the hunting pilot project which quietly transformed into hunting proper, and a detailed country-wide survey of game numbers conducted to ascertain scientifically if hunting, and for what species, can potentially be allowed again, if at all.
Hunting crept back through the new Wildlife Act’s “wildlife use rights” section, and when first proposed, the then CEO of UWA publicly promised to avail the study and result,s or the pilot scheme, to tourism and conservation stakeholders. This, according to many, never did take place, and although Moses Mapesa has repeatedly made comments in the past that the dialogue was held, no evidence to that effect was ever made public as to the where, when, and who participated. Evidence was also submitted to UWA that the endangered Sitatunga gazelle had been advertised by hunting firms, but no visible action appears to have been taken against the culprits.
Hunting is hugely controversial among conservationists, and while proponents constantly point to the benefits, the topic certainly raises the emotions to boiling point.