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At the Helm of Africa’s First Court Dedicated to Wildlife Crime 

When Gladys Kamasanyu was asked to become head of a new wildlife court in Uganda in 2017, she felt conflicted. Although the chief magistrate had participated in discussions that led to the court’s creation part of her wanted to stay with the human cases she had always adjudicated on rather than swap the familiar for the risk of the unknown. Kamasanyu has tried more than 1,000 wildlife cases, convicting more than 600 traffickers, including a man sentenced to life in prison last year for possession of ivory. She has presided over cases involving pangolins, the most trafficked mammal in the world, and ruled on cases involving rhino horns, elephant ivory and hippopotamuses’ teeth. Her example has sent a strong message to poachers. For years, criminals used Uganda as a conduit for trafficking wildlife products from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. Now they think twice before they commit wildlife crime here.