Saturday, 08 August, 2020

Uganda: Man who killed rare gorilla condemned to 11 years in prison

Gone. Rafiki the silverback of Nkuringo Gone. Rafiki the silverback of Nkuringo gorilla group was reported missing in the group on June 1
Deanna Wagner | 01 August, 2020, 16:44

His body was found on June 2, a day later.

Felix Byamukama pleaded guilty to entering the Bwindi reserve and killing the 25-year-old silverback named Rafiki (friend), the Ugandan wildlife authority reported on Thursday.

A post mortem found that the gorilla sustained an injury by a sharp object that penetrated its left upper part of the abdomen up to the internal organs, according to the UWA. The Nkuringo group had 17 gorillas at the time of Rafiki's death, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). But Kabale Chief Magistrate Julius Kyaka Borere sentenced him to 11-years in jail because he did not waste court time, by quickly admitting his case.

He was also found in possession of of several hunting devices including a spear and rope snares which were discovered in a search of his home.

His co-accused; Bampabenda, Museveni and Mubangizi who denied the charges were remanded back to Kisoro government prison until further notice.

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.

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"We are relieved that Rafiki has been given justice and this must serve as an case in point to other people who destroy 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 added.

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

UWA recently reported that the Nkuringo group in the Southern Sector of Bwindi has stabilized with 12 individuals and 3 infants under the leadership of Rwamutwe the dominant blackback.

Earlier this month, UWA said poaching attempts have doubled in Uganda as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a rise in unemployment and food shortages.

Uganda earns a significant foreign revenue from gorilla tracking.