Rafiki: Rare silverback gorilla killer imprisoned for 11 years

Pablo Tucker
August 2, 2020

On June 1, 2020, Rafiki, the rare silverback mountain gorrilla belonging to Nkuringo group was reported missing.

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 report later said a sharp objected had penetrated Rafiki's internal organs, causing its death.

Asides from the gorilla, the Ugandan hunter said he had gone to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park alongside three others to hunt for smaller animals. 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.

Byamukama, a resident of Murole village, Nteko Parish, Nyabwishenya sub-county, Kisoro district was arrested on June 4, 2020 following the death of Rakifi.

He later pleaded guilty to the offences when he appeared before a magistrate while his alleged accomplices; Evarist Bampabenda, Valence Museveni and Yonasi Mubangizi denied the charges and were further remanded to Kisoro prisons.

Rafiki went missing early June and a search was mounted only to find a dead body inside BINP in Hakato area.

Rafiki is a Swahili word that means "friend".

Byamukama had stated the gorilla assaulted him and he needed to eliminate Rafiki in self defence, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

"We are relieved that Rafiki has received justice", Sam Mwandha, UWA executive director, said. It is speculated that either Christmas or Posho will take over leadership of this group.

"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". "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", Mwandha said.

In Uganda, a hunter has been sentenced to eleven years in prison for killing one of the most famous mountain gorillas and other wild animals. Over 50% of UWA's revenue generated from wildlife tourism comes from tracking gorillas.

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