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Man who killed gorilla in Uganda given 11 year jail term

A court in Uganda on Thursday sentenced one man to serve 11 years in prison for killing a mountain gorilla, Rafiki last month.

On June 1, 2020, Rafiki, a darling to tourists and a rare silverback mountain gorilla who headed the Nkuringo group was reported missing but  after intense search and rescue efforts, his body was recovered in Hakato area inside Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Court heard that Byamukama, a resident of Murole village, Nteko Parish, Nyabwishenya Sub County, Kisoro District was arrested on June 4, 2020 on suspicion of killing Rafiki. He was also found in possession of bush pig meat and several hunting equipment.
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.

Appearing before Kabale Chief Magistrate’s Court, Felix Byamukama pleaded guilty to three offences of illegally entering a protected area (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park), killing a gorilla and a duiker.

Kabale Chief Magistrate, Julius Borere sentenced Byamukama to five, six and five years respectively to be served concurrently.
In the second case file, Byamukama pleaded guilty to the offence of killing a bush pig, being in possession of bush pig and duiker meat and was sentenced to five years for each offence and this, court said he will serve concurrently after his sentences in the first case file.
This therefore, means he will spend 11 years in jail for all the offences unless he appeals.

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.

“We are relieved that Rafiki has received justice and this should serve as an example to other people who kill wildlife. If one person kills wildlife, we all lose. We, therefore, request every person to support our efforts of conserving wildlife for the present and future generations,” Mr Mwandha added.

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

Mountain gorillas are found only in the hilly regions of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC and were until recently regarded as an endangered species.

Both Uganda and Rwanda earn a significant amount of their tourism revenue from tourists who come to specifically see the gorillas.

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