Historic Move As Pascal Ochiba Is Sentenced To Life In Prison By A Ugandan Court For Illegal Possession Of Elephant Ivory

In a landmark decision handed down earlier this month, ivory trafficker and trader Pascal Ochiba was sentenced to life imprisonment for the unlawful possession of a protected species. This marks the longest sentence for this crime in Uganda’s history.

The ruling by a court in Uganda was made after Ochiba was found guilty of possession of two pieces of elephant ivory weighing 9.55 kg without a wildlife use right. As per a statement from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Ochiba was arrested on January 18th of this year, in the Namuwongo zone of Uganda.

Sadly, there are only a little more than 7,900 elephants left in the wild in Uganda. These include both forest and savannah elephants.

Elephants are protected under appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as species threatened by extinction due to trade while the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the African forest elephant as critically endangered and the African savannah elephant as endangered.

While sentencing Ochiba, the Chief Magistrate of the Standards, Utilities, and Wildlife Court, Gladys Kamasanyu, explained that offenses of unlawful possession of protected species are rampant and must be curbed.

Kamasanyu also stated that Ochiba was a habitual offender having been charged in 2017 with two counts of unlawful possession of protected species and convicted by the same court. For that crime, Ochiba was sentenced to eighteen months in jail after being found with four pieces of ivory and a dry skin of an Okapi.

According to Kamasanyu, leaving Ochiba in circulation increases the risk of killing endangered species; further noting that he deserves a sentence that will contribute to making the world a safer place for wildlife and humans.

“We are happy that the maximum sentence is being handed to a wildlife offender. This is a landmark achievement in our war on illegal wildlife trade in Uganda,” said Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director, Sam Mwandha. “We must do our best in our times to protect our wildlife, otherwise history will judge us harshly.”

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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