Beloved 25-yr-old silverback gorilla killed by poachers
Poachers have killed the beloved 25-yr-old silverback and well-known male mountain gorilla known as Rafiki.
Four suspected poachers have been arrested following the death of Rafiki who led a group of 17 gorillas in western Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park since 2008, according to a June 12 statement by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Rafiki died after a poacher speared into his belly, penetrating as deep as his internal organs, according to a post-mortem report. The last time a mountain gorilla died at the hands of humans was in 2011.
Rafiki went missing on June 1, and a search party found his mutilated body the following day. Rangers tracked a suspect to a nearby village, where he was allegedly found with bushmeat as well as snares, a spear, and bells to be strapped to the collars of hunting dogs. He admitted that he and three others had been hunting antelope in the park and that he killed Rafiki in self-defense after the animal attacked.
Under Uganda’s stringent laws, the four men face life imprisonment or a fine of $5.4 million (UGX20,189,201,400) if found guilty of killing an endangered species.
Though Rafiki was not killed for bush meat, the incident follows warnings from conservationists and government officials that the coronavirus pandemic and accompanying lockdowns could force people to resort to poaching out of desperation. The country’s nationwide curfew has closed national parks and suspended ecotourism expeditions to see the gorillas in their natural habitat, the main source of revenue for gorilla conservation.
The arrest was as a result of investigations into the Silverback’s death by UWA after a post-mortem report revealed that the Silverback sustained an injury by a sharp object that killed it.
UWA said it arrested Felix Byamukama, a resident of Murole village in Kisoro District who was found in possession of bush pig meat plus several hunting tools including a spear, wires snares and a dog hunting bell that were recovered from his home.
Byamukama confessed to killing the Gorilla in self-defense after he had gone hunting in the park with a one Bampabenda Everest and the silverback charged at them prompting him to spear it.
Aaron Ainomugish, editorial https://twitter.com/AaronAinomugis3