A Ugandan court on Thursday sentenced an ivory trafficker to life in prison in a historic ruling praised by the country’s wildlife authority. The man was arrested in January with two ivory pieces weighing nearly 10 kilos (22 pounds).
Since 1989, international trade in ivory has been forbidden under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Despite this, the ivory trade continues and is one of the main reasons why Africa’s elephant population has declined in fifty years from 1.5 million to around 415,000.
“We are happy to see the maximum sentence being handed to a wildlife offender. This is a landmark achievement in our war on illegal wildlife trade in Uganda,” Sam Mwandha, the executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), said in a statement after the life in prison ruling for the ivory trafficker.
The judge noted that the trafficker was a repeat offender, “having been charged in 2017 with two counts of unlawful possession of protected species and convicted by the same court,” UVA said.
Uganda is a significant transit point for traffickers trading in body parts of animals such as elephants and rhinos.