February 12, 2019
Thanks to scanners funded by the Department for International Development
(DFID), the Ugandan Revenue Authority has made one of the largest seizures
of wildlife contraband the country has ever seen.
Customs officers in the Northern Ugandan town of Elegu, on the border with
South Sudan, seized an estimated 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of
pangolin scales, which have a street value of more than ?6 million. This
enabled a security operation culminating in the arrest of two suspected
The scanners funded through UK aid and Trade Mark East Africa uncovered
three containers holding the illegal wildlife goods, which the Ugandan Tax
Authority estimates killed at least 325 elephants, and thousands of
The technology, known as “mobile non-intrusive inspection scanners”, were
able to show how logs had been hollowed out and filled with the illegal
wildlife goods. The smugglers poured wax inside to make the logs appear
hollow and resealed them.
The scanners act like x-rays and mean that customs officers don’t
physically have to open up vehicles to search inside. Aside from tackling
the illegal wildlife trade they can also help stop other illicit items from
Harriett Baldwin, Minister of State for Africa said: “This seizure is
another example of how UK aid is helping countries to crack down on the
illegal ivory trade.”
“Wildlife crime robs communities of their natural resources and livelihoods
while deepening poverty and inequality. The UK Government will continue
working with our African partners to tackle the underlying issues driving
Elephants are one of the most poached mammals for their tusks, but
Pangolins (Olugave) are even more sort after for their scales which hold
medicinal value in parts of Asia.
The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) presents a persistent problem across
Africa with an estimated 100,000 pangolins trafficked from Africa to Asia
every year and Tanzania losing 60% of its elephants in half a decade.
IWT negatively impacts state revenue, economies, and local communities with
more than ?70bn per year lost due to crimes affecting natural resources. It
is one of the most lucrative forms of trafficking along with drugs and
By working with affected governments wildlife can be used as an engine for
tourism, job creation and sustainable development. DFID is helping to
tackle the underlying issues driving the trade.
Last October we announced ?6 million to protect iconic and endangered
species including rhinos, elephants and pangolins. We are also are
introducing innovative new farming techniques and climate-smart crops which
provide far more yield ? providing sustainable, more lucrative alternatives