Poacher Who Stabbed Famous Ugandan Gorilla Rafiki, Jailed For 11 Years

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A recent incident where a poacher who stabbed one of Uganda’s most famous and beloved silverback gorillas to death has been jailed for 11 years.

Head of a 17-member gorilla group, Rafiki was hugely popular with tourists, tragically found dead after going missing on June 1.

Poacher Felix Byamukama was subsequently arrested and pleaded guilty to slaughtering Rafiki in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. He pleaded guilty to numerous charges including killing a gorilla, entering a protected area, and being in possession of illegal meat. He was also found in possession of several hunting devices including a spear and rope snares which were discovered in a search of his home.

He 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. The poacher admitted to going hunting in the park but claimed he had killed Rafiki in self-defense after the silverback charged at the hunting party. A UWA team tracked Byamukama to a nearby village, where he was found with the hunting equipment.

Mountain gorillas are endangered with just over 1,000 in existence and the Uganda Wildlife Authority stated “Rafiki has received justice”.

“We are all relieved that Rafiki has received justice and this should serve as an example to other people who kill wildlife,” said wildlife official Sam Mwandha.

“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.

Reported, Rafiki was missing from the Nkuringo gorilla group on June 1, prompting a frantic search which eventually led to the tragic discovery of the gorilla’s body.

A post-mortem revealed that the gorilla sustained “an injury by a sharp device/object that penetrated its left upper part of the abdomen up to the internal organs”.

On Byamukama was sentenced to 11 years in prison by chief magistrate Julius Borere at a court in Kabale, said the wildlife authority. Another three suspects who were also arrested at the time have pleaded not guilty and been remanded in custody while they await trial. Officials say tough new legislation introduced in 2019 means that “anyone involved in illegal wildlife activities will face the wrath of the law”.

Source: Daily Star

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