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Poacher arrested over death of UWA employee

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) staff, Philemon Asaasira, 33, from Bubare Sub County in Rubanda District, succumbed to gunshots wounds after a bitter crossfire with the poachers (COURTESY PHOTO)

RUBANDA – Police in Kigezi Region have arrested a poacher in connection with the shooting dead of a staff member of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

Philemon Asaasira, 33, from Bubare Sub County in Rubanda District, died of gunshots he sustained in the stomach in a fire exchange with a poacher on Friday.

And on Saturday, George Sabiti, 62, a resident of Rwesigiro cell in Kikarara parish, Bwambara Sub-county in Rukungiri district, was arrested by UWA staff from Katunguru in Rubirizi district in connection with the incident.

Police said the rangers received intelligence information of the sale of Ivory by someone. They disguised as buyers and were led to the point where it was being kept.

“It’s from there that UWA staff decided to arrest Sabiti the owner (of ivory) and in the process they realized that he had other people hiding, that’s when the armed staff with a pistol started shooting in the air to scare them off and incidentally, the Sgt who was struggling with the suspect was shot,” Kigezi Region Police Spokesman Elly Maate said on Saturday. UWA Communications Officer Mr Bashir Hangi confirmed the incident

Asasira was rushed to Bikurungu health centre III before he was taken to Nyakibale Hospital where he died from shortly after being admitted.

Police recovered two cartridges of pistol bullets, a piece of Ivory and other small items.

In 2014, the President directed the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and UWA to shoot on sight any armed poacher found in game parks. President Museveni, who was in Kidepo National Park to mark 50 years of that park, was concerned that tourism, which earned Uganda about $1.3 billion (about Shs3.3 trillion) in 2013 and had attracted more than 1.5m visitors, was being hindered by armed poachers.

In the proposed draft Bill to amend the Uganda Wildlife Authority Act, government has set tough measures to discourage killing of wild animals that are a major source of revenue to government.

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