Press Release

AWF, WCS Partner to Train Ugandan Rangers in Wildlife Crime Scene Management

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Group Photo of the rangers during the training in Uganda

A Group Photo from the Wildlife Crime Scene Management training program for the rangers within the Murchison Conservation Area. 

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), has completed a training program for 59 rangers within the Murchison Conservation Area. 

The training, funded by USAID’s Uganda Combating Wildlife Crime (CWC) initiative, focused on witness training and first responder procedures at wildlife crime scenes. 

Spanning 5,072 square kilometers, the Murchison Conservation Area encompasses Murchison National Park, Bugungu Wildlife Reserve, and Karuma Wildlife Reserve. Rangers operating in these vital landscapes have been trained to effectively preserve crime scenes, gather evidence, and provide compelling testimony in court proceedings.

Frederick Kiiza, the UWA Chief Warden of the Murchison Conservation Area, expressed confidence in the enhanced capabilities of the rangers. 

“The training provided the rangers with essential tools for more effective wildlife protection, and we expect these skills to be shared among their colleagues,” said Kiiza. “The participants were chosen from all three divisions of the conservation area to ensure a comprehensive impact.”

The intensive week-long training featured a variety of learning methods, including presentations on wildlife policy and legislation, video demonstrations of evidence collection, practical crime scene management, and exercises aimed at improving court testimonies.

Key topics addressed during the training included wildlife crime countermeasures, legal frameworks, basic investigation techniques, crime scene management, evidence collection, and standards for evidence handling and storage.

"This training is a pivotal step," says Geoffrey Mwedde, Chief of Party for the CWC activity. " Enhanced knowledge and hands-on skills in managing wildlife crime scenes and courtroom testimony will lead to stronger prosecutions and more deterrent sentences.”

The five-year CWC project is dedicated to improving inter-agency coordination and collaboration, bolstering institutional capacities, and utilizing high-quality data and analysis to shape anti-wildlife crime strategies.

This training program is a part of the African Wildlife Foundation's (AWF) Counter Wildlife Trafficking initiative. Its goal is to enhance the capacity of law enforcement officers in Uganda. The program empowers the rangers to combat wildlife crime and uphold Uganda's conservation laws effectively.

“This initiative not only bolsters our efforts against wildlife crime but also enhances cooperation among the various organizations dedicated to wildlife conservation,” stated Sylvia Wasige, AWF’s Senior Project Officer for Species Conservation.

Dennis Opio, a tracker dog handler with UWA, highlighted the practical benefits of the training: “The sessions on statement recording and courtroom procedures were invaluable. As someone who often tracks offenders from crime scenes to their hideouts, these real-world skills are immediately applicable to my role as a first responder and, occasionally, a court witness.”

Barigye Kennedy, another UWA officer, underscored the importance of proper evidence management. “Training in the correct collection and storage of evidence is crucial for successful prosecutions and for maintaining the integrity of both crime scenes and the evidence itself.”

AWF and its partners continue to enhance law enforcement training in evidence and exhibit management, reinforcing the capacity to tackle wildlife crimes effectively.