Seven suspects found in possession of 10 dried penises of elephants valued at sh17b, six tortoises valued at sh22m, and pangolin scales worth sh5m have been denied bail by Buganda Road Court Magistrate Miriam Okello.
The suspects include Hyan Jian 42, Mao Xhe Ming 37, Mao Ya Jan 33, Li Ren Zhe 28, Li Jin Ming 50.
During a televised hearing translated in Chinese and English on Tuesday, they were denied bail after presenting suspicious sureties and documents.
The suspects were arrested following a tip-off by neighbours who suspected them of having escaped from quarantine meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Police stormed their residence in Kireka, a Kampala suburb where they found the suspects in illegal procession of wildlife products as stipulated in Article 26 of Wildlife Act.
According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) lawyer Annet Tuhaisomwe, with the new Uganda Wildlife Act, a person who without a permit, hunts, molests or in possession of the protected specimen or is found with, sells, buys, transfers or accepts the transfer of protected specimen, commits an offense and shall on conviction, be liable to a maximum of a fine of between sh200m -sh20b, a jail term or both.
"The Wildlife taskforce is seeing a growing demand for other parts of the animal; trunks, feet, even the penis, to be used in traditional medicine. The hide which is believed to be a remedy for eczema is particularly in demand," said the other UWA lawyer Blair Atwebarebeire, adding that despite the ban on ivory imposed by the Chinese government earlier this year, ivory globally remains the most valuable part of the elephant."
Most elephants are killed in protected areas but recent killings have also been reported in neighboring countries trapped in civil wars.
"They use Uganda as a transit route," said Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) executive director James Musinguzi.