Pictured are pangolin scales intercepted by Ugandan authorities from a Congolese national in 2013. On the black market, a kilo of pangolin scales is worth sh1.6m. (File photo by Kennedy Oryema)

Pictured are pangolin scales intercepted by Ugandan authorities from a Congolese national in 2013. On the black market, a kilo of pangolin scales is worth sh1.6m. (File photo by Kennedy Oryema)

Justice Elizabeth Musoke of the civil division of the High Court in Kampala dismissed a case filed by environmental lobby group Green Watch Uganda.

The case arose this year on January 23 when the lobby group sued Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) over purported illegal trade in endangered wildlife.

Green Watch had alleged that live pangolins are killed to fuel the lucrative trade.

They based their case on Maku?s application to export 7,310kgs (about seven tonnes) of pangolin scales, valued at $4.2m (sh11b). It is part of stock owned by Maku, legally acquired from UWA stores.

But the judge dismissed the case, noting that Green Watch did not adduce any scientific data, and relied on inconclusive newspaper reports, which were speculative.

?I vacate the interim order and order that the license be given. The businessman can go ahead and export all his stock,? the judge ordered.

The order in effect lifts the temporary ban imposed in March on UWA from issuing of the license, pending the dispose of the case.

The judgment was delivered in the presence of Maku. His legal team comprised of Richard Kabazzi, Joseph Kyazze, Anthony Kaweesi, and Iga Stephen.

UWA legal team comprised of Chemonges Sabilla, Ali Luzinda, and Annet Tuheisomwe, while Green Watch?s lawyer was Samantha Atukunda.

On March 24, the judge allowed Maku to partner with UWA and battle Green Watch, after the businessman had petitioned court, asserting that his economic rights were under threat, because he had been excluded as a defendant.

Maku?s company Smico Skin Craft Industries Limited was on July 4 last year granted license to export the scales.

However, the export license expired on January 22, and Maku applied for another.

UWA executive director Dr. Andrew Seguya swore an affidavit to the effect that the export of pangolin scales is legal and poses no danger to wildlife population.

The license issued to Maku was for collection of old trophies and not hunting of the live specimen.

The pangolin similarly referred to as a scaly anteater, have large protective keratin scales covering their skin.

The scales are used for making medicines and bangles. The biggest market in Asia is found in China. Occasionally, they are used as a substitute for ivory.

UWA lawyers submitted that Maku?s collection is for old trophies legally acquired from UWA stores, having been collected since the 1960s.

Section 29 of the UWA Act cap 200 provides for six classes of wildlife user rights (license) and Maku possesses Class D for trade in wildlife and wildlife products.

Under sections 29 and 31 of the Act, the UWA executive director is mandated to issue wildlife user rights to any company that makes an application.

Speaking outside court shortly after delivery of the judgment, Maku expressed satisfaction that court recognized his legal business dealings.

Green Watch?s lawyer Samantha Atukunda said she would first scrutinize the ruling to and explore the next course of action.

Andante Okanya, The New Vision

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