United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Uganda Combating Wildlife Crime (CWC) is a five-year activity (2020 - 2025) implemented by a consortium of partners including Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Natural Resources Conservation Network (NRCN) and The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
The goal of the activity is to reduce wildlife crime. The activity hopes to achieve this by strengthening the capacity of CWC institutions to detect, deter and prosecute wildlife crime by working directly with the security and law enforcement agencies, USAID implementing partners working on related issues, private sector companies and communities living adjacent to protected areas.
Uganda’s tourism industry relies heavily on wildlife and natural resources worth US$1.8 billion, accounting for 6.6% of the country’s GDP. However, Uganda’s wildlife faces enormous threats, including illegal wildlife trade (IWT) that undermines the country’s prospects to attain middle-income status by 2040.
IWT is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry and a transnational threat. Uganda has registered an upsurge in wildlife product trafficking since 2010, undermining Uganda’s tourism revenue earning and national security, and is listed in the ‘gang of eight’ countries, alongside Kenya and Tanzania, which are doing little to curb illegal trade in ivory.
As an historical trading hub in East Africa, Uganda’s porous borders, weak law enforcement and penalties, and limited capacity to combat wildlife crime (CWC) have attracted trade in wildlife products from central, west and east Africa en route to Asia.
The major impediment to combating IWT in Uganda is the lack of capacity within the Uganda government. This is exacerbated by lack of or limited coordination between law enforcement agencies to tackle wildlife trafficking. In addition, corruption in Uganda continues to weaken law enforcement efforts. As a result, Uganda remains a major trafficking route for ivory and other wildlife products originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo, West Africa and Southern Africa. Recently, transit countries—particularly Uganda—were recognized as eluders of most illegal wildlife trade investigations.
To successfully tackle poaching and the illegal wildlife trade in Uganda, CWC stakeholders need to move beyond law enforcement to strengthen interagency collaboration, cooperation and coordination; strengthen law enforcement and judicial systems; develop best practice anti-poaching strategies involving communities in managing wildlife resources and taking action against wildlife crime; and combat corruption.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Uganda Combating Wildlife Crime (CWC) Activity will focus primarily on strengthening CWC institutions’ capacity to detect, deter and prosecute wildlife crime by working directly with the security and law enforcement agencies; USAID implementing partners working on related issues; private sector companies; communities living adjacent to protected areas, and other development partners to increase the risk of engaging in wildlife crime.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will support the National Wildlife Crime Coordination Task Force (NWCCTF) — formed in May 2018 by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA), with support from WCS — to promote cooperation and coordination among security agencies, law enforcement bodies and other relevant government institutions in combating wildlife crime in Uganda. In partnership with African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), WCS will increase the capacity of Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Canine Unit to operate at known smuggling routes, including border posts. It will also strengthen judicial, prosecutorial and investigative sectors to fight against wildlife crime in partnership with Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN); and collaborate with The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) to build the capacity of IWT and CWC national and regional wildlife crime institutions and networks to coordinate and share intelligence information with the National Wildlife Crime Coordination Taskforce (NWCCTF) to facilitate combating of wildlife crime in Uganda.