Rafiki: Rare silverback gorilla killer imprisoned for 11 years

Elias Hubbard
August 1, 2020

Rafiki, a 25-year-old silverback who was the head of a gorilla group in the southwestern Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, was killed with a spear in early June.

A man has been jailed for 11 years after killing a popular mountain gorilla at a national park in Uganda.

Uganda's wildlife authority hailed "justice for Rafiki" today after Byamukama was sent to jail.

On June 1, Rafiki, the silver back of Nkuringo gorilla group was reported missing in the group and on June 2nd, 2020, UWA teams mounted a search for the missing silverback.

Byamukama Felix was arrested a few days later with pork and various hunting devices in his possession, authorities said.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) executive director, Mr Sam Mwandha welcomed the court's decision saying it would serve as an example to the would be offenders.

"We are happy that justice has been done and Rafiki will rest in peace", UWA spokesman Bashir Hangi told dpa, adding he hoped the verdict "will serve as an eye opener to anybody engaged in wildlife poaching". The next day his mutilated body was found inside the park and a post-mortem report showed a sharp device injured his abdomen and internal organs.

The Chief Magistrate His Worship Julius Borere sentenced him to 5, 6, and 5 years respectively to be served concurrently. Three other men arrested with Felix over the killing of Rafiki remain in custody, awaiting trial.

Officials say tough new legislation introduced in 2019 means that "anyone involved in illegal wildlife activities will face the wrath of the law".

This photo taken by a camera trap shows a Cross River gorilla in the Mbe Mountains of Nigeria. The approximately 400 mountain gorillas living there are used to humans.

Mountain gorillas are endangered species with just 1,000 still in existence.

Poaching is rampant in Uganda's game parks and police frequently announce seizures of illicitly acquired wildlife products such as ivory, rhino horns, pangolin scales and others.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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