Uganda suspends wildlife chief after huge ivory theft

2014-11-21 09:09
 (File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Kampala - Uganda's top wildlife official was suspended on Thursday after seized ivory worth over a million dollars vanished from government strongrooms, state-run media said, although he insisted he kept his post.

The suspension of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) executive director Andrew Seguya follows that of five top officials earlier this week, the government-owned New Vision newspaper said.

Police investigations backed by Interpol are ongoing into the more than a ton of missing tusks.

Tourism minister Maria Mutagamba recommended the UWA boss be suspended until the probe is complete, the New Vision said.

But Seguya, who has led the agency since 2010, denied he had been suspended.

"I am still in office, I don't know what they are saying", he told AFP.

Those previously suspended include UWA's chief ranger, those who had access to the vault, as well as intelligence officers in the agency.

The UWA said a routine check had found that 1 335kg of ivory had vanished from supposedly secure stockpiles, which officials estimated to be valued at some $1.1m.

Staff are feared to have been working with the very traffickers they are meant to stop to steal and sell on the confiscated tusks.

Poaching has risen sharply across Africa in recent years fuelled by rising demand in Asia for ivory and rhino horn, coveted as a traditional medicine and a status symbol.

Uganda is a key transit country for the illegal trade.

More than 35 000 elephants are killed across Africa every year for their tusks.

Read more on:    uganda  |  poaching

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