Early in the week Daily Monitor published images of some 30 baboons, which were killed by the Luwero District vermin control officials. This was after the District authorities made a unilateral decision to carry out the mass extermination of the animals which were said to be destroying food crops in Kamira sub-country .
But according to the Uganda Wild Life Act , the ownership of every wild animal and wild plant existing in its wild habitat in Uganda is vested in the government on behalf of, and for the benefit of, the people of Uganda.
The law cited above provides that an animal can only be declared a vermin on the advice of the executive director of the Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) and a declaration has to be published in the Gazette and local newspaper having wide circulation in the areas affected.
And where the animals are of value, like in the case of the Luwero baboons, the executive director is mandated under the law to advise the local communities and recommend the appropriate methods for taking the animals away.
Apparently, the enthusiastic Luwero district vermin control officers did not seek technical guidance from the UWA before they killed the more than 30 baboons .
They also did not take into consideration an agreement between UWA and the districts of Luweero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola which is meant to provide guidance on how the mentioned areas can benefit from the wildlife in their areas. It’s amazing how some of our public officers are in a hurry to devise knee-jerk solutions to complex issues.
A UWA spokesperson has stated and rightly so, that although baboons are vermin and can be destructive, killing them indiscriminately is against the law. It’s prudent that the public should support professionals who are charged with the work of ridding society of dangerous animals but they should execute their duties in accordance with the law.
Uganda is privileged to have a variety of wildlife including baboons, which certainly add to the biodiversity of our country’s eco-system. Instead of killing these animals, the vermin control officers should have coordinated with the UWA to have them relocated or exported to countries which don’t have the opportunity to own such wildlife. The country would in the end have generated revenue for the sustainable use of our wildlife for the benefit of both the present and future generations.
The writer is an advocate of the igh Court of Uganda
anmd Editor of Sunday and Saturday Monitor
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