The best news coming to the Uganda wildlife conservation efforts and the tourism sector is that the most loved silverback mountain gorilla Rafiki can finally rest in peace, thanks to the 2019 Uganda Wildlife Act and the Kabale Chief Magistrate’s Court. On July 30, 2020 the court sentenced Byamukama Felix to 11 years in prison for killing Rafiki the Silverback of Nkuringo Gorilla group and other wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, according the UWA press release.
Byamukama pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal entry into a Bwindi Impenetrable Forest protected area, killing a gorilla and a duiker.
On June 12th, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) released a statement on the death of Rafiki, the lead and only silverback of Nkuringo group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Gorilla Doctors’ post-mortem examination on Rafiki revealed that the likely cause of death was the result of injury from a sharp device/object that penetrated his left upper abdomen and passed through his internal organs. According to UWA’s statement, this injury was the result of a spear and UWA Tourism Police arrested Byamukama and three others.
According to the Wildlife Act enacted on July 1, 2019, the highest penalty is a maximum fine of Shs 20 billion or life imprisonment, or both for an offence related to a wildlife species classified as extinct in the wild, critically endangered. These include the roan antelope, lion, hunting dog, spotted and stripped hyena, greater and lesser kudu, Ssese Island Sitatunga, Cheetah, African elephant, Delany’s mouse, and endangered species such as impala, Rwenzori duiker, Rothschild’s giraffe, mountain gorilla and the common chimpanzee.
Upon his arrest on June 4 2020, Byamukama confessed to have speared the patriarch silverback in self-defense when he came into confrontation with the Silverback. He was found in possession of bush pig meat and several hunting devices including a spear, rope snares, wires snares and a dog hunting bell that were recovered from his home. His three colleagues Bampabenda Evarist, Museveni Valence and Mubangizi Yonasi denied the charges and were remanded to Kisoro prisons.
The Immense Generocity of Rafiki’s Friends
According to the sentence, he got 6 years for killing the gorilla and the other accounts for killing a bush pig, being in possession of bush pig and duiker meat for which he was sentenced to 5 years on each count, to run concurrently after serving the first six years on case file one. Therefore, he will serve a total of 11 years in prison.
“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, therefore we request every person to support our efforts of conserving wildlife for the present and future generations”Executive Director UWA Sam Mwandha