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Man Sentenced to 11 Years in Jail For Killing Silverback Mountain Gorilla, Rafiki



The Kabale Chief Magisterates Court yesterday sentenced Byamukama Felix to 11 years in prison for killing Rafiki the silverback of Nkurungo Gorilla Group and other wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Byamukama pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal entry into a protected area, killing a gorilla and a duiker.

Byamukama had said the gorilla attacked him and he had to kill 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 hunting 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.

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.

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