Man Gets 11 Years in Prison for Killing Rafiki the Gorilla

Man Gets 11 Years in Prison for Killing Rafiki the Gorilla

The Silverback gorilla, named Rafiki - which means "friend" in Swahili- was believed to be around 25 years old.

The man who pleaded guilty to killing Rafiki, one of Uganda's best known mountain gorillas is to spend 11 years behind bars.

The poacher admitted to going hunting in the park but claimed he had killed Rafiki in self-defence after the silverback charged at the hunting party.

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. Rafiki had experienced justice.

Rafiki went missing on June 1, 2020.

"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".

Byamukama Felix was arrested a few times afterwards with bush pig meat and quite a few looking products in his possession, authorities reported.

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". 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 traveling with three other men who are still waiting for their trial.

Mr Mwandha further said the new Wildlife Act 2019 is tough and that anyone involved in illegal wildlife activities would face the law.

Tourists are mostly drawn to the park by its estimated 400 mountain gorillas - roughly half the world´s population. The approximately 400 mountain gorillas living there are used to humans.

Around 1,000 mountain gorillas live in protected areas in Congo, Uganda and Rwanda, serving as a critical source of tourism revenue for those countries.

However, the WWF says the outlook has "brightened" due to conservation efforts, meaning that numbers have increased in the last two decades.



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