After naming the bird as an endangered species, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities cautioned the public against killing crested cranes or otherwise face life imprisonment or a 20 billion shillings fine.
James Onen aka Fatboy questioned whether the punishment wasn't too extreme given the circumstances that may lead one to poaching or killing the bird.
“Do you think that people who kill a crested crane should be punished to this extent?” He asked Olive, his co host. “Imagine you're a starving man, 2 years of lockdown, you were fired, lost your job or business and you’re in debt. Then you're there seated next to a swamp and you see a crested crane chilling. What do you do?”
Olive Najjuma too commented that although the 20 billion shillings may be a disproportionate amount in comparison to the crime, she acknowledged that such fines are not uncommon for endangered species.
“20 billion shillings is a bit of a stretch but with endangered species, people are normally penalized highly for poaching them so maybe the Government has a point here,” she said.
Fatboy then suggested that a collective effort between the public and the Government can save the bird species that are on the verge of extinction in the country.
“I think most people do appreciate the beauty of the crested crane and maybe the Government just needs to educate people more on how we can preserve them and their habitats so that they don't migrate to other countries or fail to reproduce fast enough before going extinct. It will be very sad the day we lose the crested crane,” he said.
The Grey Crested Crane, chosen close to 100 years ago as the symbol for Uganda’s progress on the national emblem, is part of the 16 species of its kind. The bird’s habitats are fields and swamps. According to the Tourism Ministry, the country has lost 27,000 since 1989 leaving about 8,000 of the birds alive.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive, Sarah and Lesham every weekday from 6am to 10am on RX Radio.