PARLIAMENT PASSES WILDLIFE BILL
Parliament has passed the Uganda Wildlife Bill, 2017. The bill seeks to provide for compensation for loss of life and property caused by animals escaping from wildlife protected areas.
The Bill first tabled in 2017, was passed in a Tuesday plenary session chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah.
The Bill replaces the Uganda Wildlife Act Cap 200 and consolidates the law to guide conservation and management of wildlife in Uganda.
When assented to by President Museveni, the Act will provide for compensation where a person is killed, suffers bodily injury or suffers damage to his or her crops or livestock by the wild animals listed under the Fourth Schedule of the law.
The listed wild animals include elephants, lions, leopards, crocodiles, buffaloes, hyenas, hippopotamus, gorillas and chimpanzees.
The Bill requires the affected person or his or her legal representative to submit a claim to the Wildlife Compensation Verification Committee which is supposed to verify a claim and later submit it to the board together with its recommendation.
The board shall then review the claim and if approved, award compensation according to the market rates.
Wild animals especially elephants from Murchison Falls and Kidepo National parks in the Acholi and Karamoja sub-regions have in the past continuously attacked people and destroyed many farmlands in neighbouring communities.
Uganda Wildlife Authority has been sued on several occasions over crop and property damage by wild animals.
However, efforts to have monkeys included on the compensatory list of wildlife were rejected during the debate. It was resolved that monkeys be scrapped from the list. Former Internal Affairs Minister James Baba had appealed that monkeys be added to the list since they are very destructive to farmers.
However Minister Kamuntu explained that technically, monkeys are not animals in classification but vermin's which are not protected and can be killed without facing a penalty from authorities.
The Bill provides for offenses relating to protected species such as Uganda Kob, leopard, Squirrel, Impala and Cheetah among others.
It proposes imprisonment or a fine not exceeding ten thousand currency points as a penalty for a person, who without a permit takes, hunts, molests or takes into possession protected species. The same penalty is proposed for a person found in possession of, sells, buys, transfers or accepts transfer of protected species. In Uganda, a currency point is 20,000 shillings.