Rafiki: Man who killed Uganda’s beloved gorilla sentenced to 11 years in Jail

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The man who speared and killed Uganda’s beloved silverback mountain gorilla Rafiki has been sentenced to 11 years in Jail.

Mr Felix Byamukama, who was appearing before the Kabale Chief Magistrate’s Court pleaded guilty to counts of illegal entry into a protected area, killing a gorilla, a bush pig, a duiker and being in possession of bush pig and duiker meat.

Rafiki, 25, led the Nkuringo group of about 17 mountain gorillas and was popular with wildlife authorities and tourists. He went missing on the 1st of June and his body was discovered in Hakato, an area within Bwindi Impenetrable national park.

A search party mounted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority ( UWA) traced the primate’s assailant Mr Byamukama and arrested him from his home in murole village, Nteko parish, Nyabwishenya sub-county in the western Uganda district of Kisoro.


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Bush pig meat and hunting equipment including a spear, rope and wire snares, and a dog hunting bell were recovered from his home, according to the authorities. The poacher reportedly told the wildlife authorities that he, together with three others, had gone to the park to hunt for smaller animals and that he had killed the ape in self defense after it charged at them.

The three: Bampabenda Evarist, Museveni Valance and Mubangizi Yonasi have since been remanded to kisoro prison after they pleaded not guilty to the offences.

The silverback was just one of the few thousand mountain gorillas that are currently in Uganda and a major source of tourism revenue. In 2018, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, following successful conservation efforts removed the mountain gorillas from the list of critically endangered species and classified them as endangered species.

Under Section 71 (2) (c) of the Uganda Wildlife Act of 2019, a person who kills an endangered specie is liable on conviction to a life imprisonment and/or a fine of one million currency points ( 20 Billion Uganda Shillings). Explaining the discrepancy in Mr Byamukama’s sentence, UWA said it is because he was not tried in a special wildlife court, reports the BBC.

Mr Sam Mwandha, the Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority commenting on the Court’s decision said Rafiki received Justice and that they were relieved.

” This should serve as an example to other people who kill wildlife. If one person kills wildlife, we all lose, therefore we request every person to support our efforts of conserving wildlife for the present and future generations ” He said in a press statement, adding, that the Wildlife law passed just last year is ” tough and that everyone involved in illegal wildlife activities will face the wrath of the law ”


 

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