Killer of Rafiki, Uganda’s rare silverback mountain gorilla, jailed

Killer of Rafiki, Uganda’s rare silverback mountain gorilla, jailed

  • 875
    Shares


The killer of one of Uganda’s best known , Rafiki, has been jailed for 11 years.

Felix Byamukama pleaded guilty to illegally entering a protected area and killing a gorilla.

Byamukama had said the gorilla attacked him and he killed Rafiki in self defence, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

Mountain gorillas are endangered with just over 1,000 in existence and the UWA said “Rafiki has received justice”.

Byamukama also pleaded guilty to killing a small antelope, known as a duiker, and a bush pig, as well as being in possession of bush pig and duiker meat.

He admitted to the UWA previously that he, and three others, had gone to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with the intention of smaller animals and that he killed Rafiki in self-defence when he was attacked.

Investigations showed Rafiki was killed by a sharp object that penetrated his internal organs.

The gorilla went missing on 1 June and his body was discovered by a search party the following day.

A UWA team tracked Byamukama to a nearby village, where he was found with hunting equipment.

Three others denied the charges and have been remanded in jail, awaiting trial.

Byamukama will serve several sentences concurrently, leading to 11 years in jail which falls far short of the life sentence it was predicted he could have been given.

This was because he was not tried in a special wildlife court, a UWA spokesperson told the BBC.

Uganda Wildlife Authority – There are just over 1,000 mountain gorillas left in existence

The silverback, believed to be around 25-years-old when he died, was the leader of a group of 17 mountain gorillas.

This group of gorillas was described as habituated, meaning that its members were used to human contact.

Conservationists were worried that the group would be taken over by a wild silverback who would not want to come into contact with humans, which could have affected tourism.

But UWA has since confirmed that the group is now led by a black-back from within the family and is stable.

The mountain gorillas are a popular draw for visitors to the country and the UWA relies on the tourists for revenue.

Rafiki himself was very popular with people who had come to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

But parks have been closed during the pandemic and the UWA said there had been an increase in poaching. It has counted more than 300 incidents during the months of the lockdown, reports the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire.

The species is restricted to protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda.

They can be found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and a network of parks in the range of mountains which straddle the borders of the three countries.

In 2018, the mountain gorilla was removed from the list of by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, after intensive conservation efforts, including anti-poaching patrols, paid off.

The IUCN now classifies the species as endangered.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 30 July 2020. Lead Image: Uganda Wildlife Authority – Rafiki was thought to be 25 years old when he died.


What you can do

Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.

 

 

Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.

 

Supertrooper

Founder and Executive Editor

Share this post with your friends

  • 875
    Shares


Facebook Comments

9
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
avatar
Rockie Scanlon

better than a slap on the hand. hope he’s celled with an animal lover.

David Emmett

Should have been hung

Susan Biggs

OYEAH(pinata)

Janet Kenedy

HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN SHOT TO DEATH AS AN EXAMPLE TO OTHER SCUM WHO KILL INNOCENT AND PEACEFUL GORILLAS!!!. I HOPE HE DIES IN JAIL!!

Joyce Dixon Dannheim

A public flogging and hanging would be in order

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

Lock him up and shove the key where the sun don’t shine

Damiano De Parasis

like

Sue Curtis

PIECE OF SHIT SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN A LOT LONGER SENTENCE!!!!

Ibolya Ivan

Hopefully he won’t get out alive..