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Otuke Residents Support Arrest, Prosecution of People Cutting Down Shea Trees :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Otuke Residents Support Arrest, Prosecution of People Cutting Down Shea Trees

Ojok’s arrest and subsequent prosecution received huge support from the residents, who claim that the tree species is too important to be cut down for charcoal burning.
Charcoal made from shea tree

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Residents of Otuke district are excited about the move to arrest and prosecute people cutting down the endangered shea tree species. The shea trees, which almost cover the entire district are on the verge of extinction due to the discriminating cutting mostly for charcoal burning.  Several years ago, Otuke district passed a by-law prohibiting the cutting of shea trees but it was never implemented.

There is also a cut-one-plant five-tree ordinance that has been redundant for years. On Monday last week, Joel Ojok a resident of Akadikum cell, Alec ward in Otuke town council was arrested on the orders from the district forestry officer after he was found cutting shea trees contrary to Section 31, 1(a) of the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003. 

He was using the logs for making charcoal. The next day, Ojok appeared before Irene Aber, the Otuke Grade One Magistrate who sentenced him to two years in prison. He is the first person in the district to be arrested and prosecuted for the crime. 

Ojok’s arrest and subsequent prosecution received huge support from the residents, who claim that the tree species is too important to be cut down for charcoal burning. Rebecca Auma, a shea butter vendor, says once people stop cutting down the shea, its production will increase and thereby boost their shea butter business.

Luo bite:

//Cue in: “Mako jo ame…

Cue out: … iyore apol apola.”//

Bosco Okabo, the LC I chairperson of Amac village in Ogwete sub county believes that the shea tree is a gift from God and whoever tampers with it should face the law. He says locals from Otuke have been warned against cutting down trees but most of them are adamant.

//Cue in: “This tree seems…

Cue out: … for several times.”//

Jimmy Epele, a resident of Ogor sub county says the arrests should continue because the shea tree must be preserved for future generations, adding that whoever cuts down the tree is ignorant of its benefits and must be arrested.

Luo bite;

//Cue in: “Ber ayao me…

Cue out: … wii pe tio.”//

Isaac Ochen, the Otuke District Forestry Officer, says that they have been sensitizing and warning people against cutting down trees, especially shea nut trees, which he says the District is trying to preserve especially because young ones are now growing on their own.

“We have been sensitizing the people across the district to protect shea nut trees instead of cutting them down but some do not listen and now we shall liaise with National Forestry Authority to sensitize the people alongside this operation which is already ongoing," he said. Some landowners in the district have resorted to guarding the trees on their land using bows and arrows to scare away those who might encroach on their land and cut down the trees.

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