Juba, February 12, 2019 (SSNA) — A United Kingdom-funded program helped Uganda captured two Vietnamese nationals suspected of illegally transporting 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales, a statement obtained by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) has confirmed.
It is the first time the UK admitted that it has helped catch the illegal animal parts. The announcement also comes nearly two weeks after Uganda proclaimed it has carried out the operation.
According to the report, a program called UK aid and Trade Mark East Africa is being funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and that the program employed people it refers as “scanners.” The report explains that these scanners are equipped with sophisticated machines capable of identifying hidden illicit animal parts.
The Ugandan Revenue Authority announced late last month that it has seized at 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales, saying the detained Vietnamese smugglers were caught holding the animal parts in at least three containers. The Ugandan authority also asserted that the smugglers probably killed more than 325 elephants and thousands of Pangolins in South Sudan, adding that the animal parts have a street value of more than $7 million US dollars.
It is widely speculated in South Sudan that some groups are illegally operating with foreign nationals to smuggle animal parts. Some people even accuse some elements within the South Sudanese and other armed groups of involvement.