The Standards, Utilities and Wildlife court yesterday sentenced a Congolese national identified as Mbaya Kabongo Bob to 7 years in jail for each of 2 counts of importing wildlife specimens into Uganda without a valid license and unlawful possession of protected wildlife species contrary to sections 62(2),(a)(3) and 71(1),(b) of the Uganda Wildlife Act 2019 respectively.
The sentencing comes after Mbaya pled guilty to the offenses, and he will serve both sentences concurrently.
Mbaya was arrested on April 14, 2022, during a joint operation conducted by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF), and Uganda Police in Kibaya village of the Bunagana town council Kisoro district. He was found in possession of 2 cages containing 122 African Grey Parrots, 3 of which were dead and 2 more died later.
Stated Hangi Bashir, Communications Manager of UWA: “ Seven years for Mbaya in jail will serve as a warning to others in the business of wildlife trafficking or those who intend to get involved in this business that Uganda cannot be used as either a transit route or a destination for trafficked wildlife species. We applaud the judiciary and in particular, the judicial officer who presided over the case for swiftly dispensing justice for the parrots that were being trafficked and those that died in the process.
“The African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) is one of the endangered species whose population decline is attributed to harvest for international trade and habitat loss among others.”
“The global population of the African Grey Parrot is currently estimated between 40,000 to 100,000. We should, therefore, protect this bird to ensure that it does not become extinct.”
The Wildlife Act of 2019 provides for up to a life sentence and a fine of UGX 20 billion, or both, for wildlife crime involving endangered species.
In 2018, parrots were listed as an endangered species by the International Union of Conservation of Nature. The grey parrot, also known as the Congo grey parrot, is an old-sha world parrot in the family of Psittacidae.
According to Wildlife Conservation Society, a US based non-governmental organization whose aim is to conserve the world’s largest wild places in 14 priority regions, the African grey parrot has experienced significant population declines throughout its range in West, Central, and East Africa. It is extremely rare or locally extinct in Benin, Burundi, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Togo. This once very abundant species of the forests is unfortunately now threatened by out-of-control international trade.
If the grey parrot could talk, and it indeed does, it would applaud the sentencing of Mbaya, literally meaning ′′bad′′ or ′′egregious′′ as translated from Swahili to English.