Tens of hundreds of ‘orphan –children’ of animals living in the Albertine Graben have today appealed to the supreme court of Uganda for a bigger punishment to all human beings implicated in bush meat trade. In a rare show of courage a baby chimpanzee called his brothers and sisters for a meeting after she found out that human beings had killed her mother and father and now she was left alone with a young brother.
The two orphan chimpanzee children decided to call upon all other orphan children of the great apes in the Albertine graben and decided to appeal to humanity for help. ‘We also want to live’. They said. They decided to appeal to the supreme court of Uganda about the problem of bush meat trade in Uganda and the East African region with they said is going to cause an extinction of the great apes sooner than human beings thought.
The appeal comes two months after three bush meat traders; Grace Atto, Rose Akello and Margaret Akullu were sentenced to seven month imprisonment or a fine of a paltry 200,000/= each by the Kiryandongo Magistrate’s court. The trio had been caught red handed carrying more than 380 pieces of smoked bush meat worth over Shs4m by the Uganda Wildlife Authority officials under the Bush meat Free East African Network (BEAN).
The three women were arrested with six boxes of bush meat of the Uganda Kob, bush buck and duiker killed from Murchison Falls National Park, one of the best parks for wildlife safaris in Uganda. The ‘orphan children’ said that they demand for a bigger punishment to all those implicated in bush meat trade saying that if more serious punishments are not meted out to the offenders, animals were going to be wiped off the face of Uganda and thereby stifling the tourism sector.
‘We don’t know what is wrong with human beings. They know that animals are important for tourism which earns Uganda over $600m annually, but when it comes to conserving wild life they joke around’. ‘The orphan children’ wondered.
At a meeting which these ‘children’ held near Paraa Safari Lodge in Murchison Falls National Park, they decided to reveal all the tricks that people who trade in bush meat use so that they can help all the stake holders in apprehending the culprits.
Suppliers of bush meat
They said that there are two suppliers of bush meat, the hunters and the traders. That the hunters supply more in Masindi, Kasese, Gulu and few in Mbarara while the traders supply more in Kampala. They therefore appealed to all the stakeholders in the said places to be very vigilant and curb the trade.
How the sell it
They said that bush meat is mostly sold from house to house, through weekly and daily markets and also supplied to restaurants throughout the country.
The orphans pointed out that the biggest mode of transport used in carrying bush meat from the national parks is by bicycles, the second is by pick-ups with the third, sadly are the government vehicles..
‘Apart from the above, other modes of transporting bush meat are boats, ferry, minibus, motorcycles and many more’. They added.
How traders beat security
The children cautioned all stakeholders and mostly the security that the bush meat traders have very unusual ways of concealing the illegal trade. They said that all security men and women should be aware about the following methods whenever they are checking for illegal things.
‘The best way they transport the bush meat is by first tying it in polythene bags, and then they put the bags in sacks and pack the sacks on vehicles carrying charcoal’. They warned that this was the leading way the meat reaches towns and that security should be very careful with vehicles carrying charcoal.
Other methods include carrying bush meat openly but disguising it as, beef and goat and also putting it in brief cases as clothes. They warned that most of the brief cases crossing the Karuma going to Kampala have bush meat and requested security men to lift those brief cases to feel their weight.
‘The security people will be shocked to find that a brief case is as heavy as 25 kilograms’. They said.
How do stop it
The children also brainstormed and decided to give policy makers and the Uganda Wild Life Authority some tips on how the illegal trade could be stopped.
They therefore suggested the following tips:
They suggested that in order to raise awareness of this problem, the Uganda Wild Life Authority and the government of Uganda should together sensitize communities about this in papers, on TVs and magazines.
‘We have heard how millions and millions of money meant for tourism are being squandered; why not put aside some little money for this noble campaign?
They also advised all stake holders to invest in co-existence of the animals and humans especially in the Albertine Grabben where most protected areas are located. They said that the sensitization programs should start immediately in all areas around the national parks.
Convert the hunters
All the communities around protected areas have got members who are well known as hunters. ‘Why can’t we talk to these hunters and convert them into wild life protectors?’. They advised, adding that if this is done, these fellows would be a very good resource since they know all the tricks of the terrible trade in bush meat.
The orphan children said that the stakeholders should educate all the families around the protected areas about the dangers of eating bush meat.
‘We know human beings as cowards. If you tell them when they eat bush meat they get diseases which kill in hours like Ebola, Mar bag, Anthrax etc., they would stop the trade’.
Give them alternatives
Lastly, they advised UWA and government to work towards giving these people returns from Uganda tourism and encouraging them to start raring chicken, goats, ship, pigs and fish to enable them have their own ways of obtaining the meat.