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She is an animal advocate in the truest sense of the word: Gladys Kamasanyu is the president of the wildlife justice court in Kampala, Uganda. Her job is simple: she judges crimes committed against animals. It is an exceptional court, the first court of its kind created in Africa in 2017, as she begins her seventh year at its head, the magistrate takes stock in the British daily The Guardian. She has investigated more than 1,000 poaching cases and sentenced more than 600 traffickers, including a man to life in prison for trading in elephant tusks.
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Among those she did justice to, there are elephants, but also pangolins, the most trafficked mammal in the world for its scales, rhinos, giraffes, and even hippopotamuses… »But there is still a lot of ignorance about the cruelty that is inflicted on these animalsshe complains. Many people think that animals belong to the first one who catches them, and that you can go freely in the forest to hunt them every day. Ignorance is thinking that animals will always be there, that they reproduce endlessly, that they are indestructible.«
Deliver justice for all, humans and animals
To break these certainties, Gladys Kamasanyu does not only condemn traffickers and poachers, she multiplies the speeches to explain that no, animals do not multiply ad infinitum, and that consequently they must be protected. To those who tell her that she prefers animals to humans, she replies that she has always believed in the Ugandan constitutional principle that « justice be served for all »and that, according to her, « for everyone » obviously includes animals. Yet she didn’t always think like that. It was the experience, the repeated study of multiple cases of poaching, the sight of mutilated and massacred animals that convinced him.
Born into a family of farmers, she studied law to defend human lives, before being shocked by the figures of animal trafficking, an illegal market of 10 to 20 billion dollars a year in the early 2010s. , and above all hundreds of thousands of slaughtered animals. Since then, she has noted a positive evolution.
In Uganda, the number of elephants killed for their tusks, for example, has fallen by 90% in five years. « There is still a lot to do, she told Ugandan newspaper The Independent. Ttoo many traffickers are released on bail, too many foreign hunters manage to flee before being judged… But the important thing is to give voice, to speak for those who cannot speak. »