Gulu court has sentenced Bosco Opiyo, 30, a resident of Oneya B Village in Juma Parish, Kamdini Sub-county in Oyam District to five years behind bars after pleading guilty of entering Murchison Falls National Game Park illegally and being found in possession of game meat.
Presided over by the chief magistrate, Mr Francis Matenga Dawa at Nwoya court hall yesterday Tuesday, September 1, 2020, prosecution contended that on August 21, 2020, Opiyo and three others still at large at around 12pm were found with bush back and warthog game meat at Barabo area in Karuma Wildlife Reserve without permission.
Opiyo pleaded guilty to both counts.
He was, thus, convicted and sentenced to five years instead of the maximum life imprisonment or fine of Shs200m on the first count of illegal possession of game meat which is contrary to section 71(1) (b) of the Uganda Wildlife Act 2019.
Opiyo was also convicted and sentenced to three years in prison on the second count of entering the conservation area without permission contrary to Section 30(1) of the Uganda Wild Authority Act, 2019 that attracts a maximum of 10 years or fine of Shs7m. Both punishments will run concurrently.
Reading his verdict, the magistrate noted that poaching is rampant and posing a big threat to the tourism sector which is one of the leading contributors to Uganda’s economy and thus a need for deterrent sentences.
“We can’t just watch this rampant act of poaching going on which with time will result in extinction of endangered species of wildlife in the park and hence affecting on the tourism sector,” Mr Matenga said.
The Uganda Wildlife Bill 2017, which was passed by Parliament early 2017, that has been finally assented to by President Yoweri Museveni states that when caught, a poacher or poachers involved in killing endangered species will face life imprisonment or pay a fine of Shs20b or both.
The same court remanded Moses Byaruhanga, 32, resident of Wankado West Village in Ganda Parish, Panyimur Sub-county in Pakwach District to Kitgum government prison for entering Murchison Falls National Game Park illegally.
Court heard that on August 18, 2020, at around 12pm, Byaruhanga was found fishing at Shoe Bill area within the game park.
Appearing before the court, the suspect pleaded not guilty to the charges and was remanded to Kitgum government prison until September 24, 2020 when he will reappear before court for hearing of the case.
Entering a conservation area without permission is contrary to Section 30(1) of the Uganda Wild Authority Act 2019 and attracts a maximum of 10 years imprisonment or a Shs7m-fine if found guilty.