Four arrested over death of Gorilla
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has arrested four poachers in the Southern Sector of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park following the death of a gorilla, the authority said.
The gorilla known as Rafiki (a Swahili word to mean “friend”) was a Silverback of the famous Nkuringo group which was the first to be habituated in the area and had 17 members now reduced to 16.
“On June 1st, 2020, Rafiki, the silver back of Nkuringo gorilla group was reported missing in the group and on June 2nd, 2020, our team mounted a search for the missing silver back,” a Friday statement from UWA said.
The arrest of the four individuals who confessed to be poachers came as a result of investigations into the Silverback’s death by UWA after a post-mortem report revealed that it sustained an injury by a sharp object that penetrated its left upper part of the abdomen up to the internal organs.
The key suspect, Felix Byamukama a resident of Murole village, Nyabwishenya Sub County, Kisoro District was found in possession of bush pig meat and several hunting devices including a spear, rope snares, wires snares and a dog hunting bell following a search of his home.
According to a statement from UWA, Byamukama confessed to killing the Gorilla in self-defence.
Byamukama told authorities that he had gone hunting in the park with Bampabenda Evarist when they came into contact with the gorilla group and that when the silverback charged at them, he speared it.
He added that he shared some of the bush pig meat with fellow poachers Valence Museveni and Yonasi Mubangizi.
The UWA team working with the Chairman LCI Chairman of Murole village Mr. Ngabirano Pascal, arrested Bampabenda Evarist, Museveni Valence and Mubangisi Yonasi on June 7th, 2020.
The four suspects are currently at Kisoro Police station awaiting trial.
Poaching has continued to be a vice around and inside Uganda’s conservation areas posing a danger to the wildlife even when efforts like fencing off, increased surveillance and community sensitisation have been undertaken by the authorities.
In 2018, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the mountain gorilla was no longer ‘critically endangered’ but that the species remained “endangered,” following a surge in the gorilla population.
Uganda still has half of the world’s mountain gorilla population which are also found in two other countries of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.