Poacher Who Killed Endangered Silverback Gorilla ‘Rafiki’ Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison
Poacher pleaded guilty to killing Rafiki, a well-known and beloved mountain gorilla in Uganda.
The 25-year-old silverback lived in a protected area in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and was the leader of the Nkuringo gorilla troop. The species is listed as endangered with only 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the world, with half living in the 80,000 acre national park.
Tourists from around the world fell in love with Rafiki and were heartbroken when they heard he was missing in June. Rangers set out to try and find the missing gorilla and sadly found his body the following day.
They arrested and charged Byamukama Felix and three other poachers with entering a protected area and killing Rafiki. Byamukama confessed to killing Rafiki but said it was in self-defense. He said the gorilla charged him and he killed Rafiki with a spear.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) released a statement that said Byamukama was sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing Rafiki and other wildlife in the protected park. “Byamukama pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal entry into a protected area, killing a gorilla, and a duiker.”
The other three poachers denied the charges and are waiting trail in Kisoro Prisons.
“We are relieved that Rafiki has received justice and this should serve as an example to other people who kill wildlife, said Sam Mwandha, executive director of UWA. “If one person kills wildlife, we all lose.”
He goes on to say that the new Wildlife Act 2019 is “tough and that anyone involved in illegal wildlife activities will face the wrath of the law.”
The group once led by Rafiki has a new leader and UWA reports they are doing well. People are happy that the beloved gorilla received some justice, but many wrote that the poacher deserved the life sentence he was originally facing. “I thought the new law says life imprisonment for killing an ENDANGERED animal..Where did we go wrong ?😭😭😭”