BWINDI – A man who killed one of Uganda’s silverback Mountain Gorilla’s; Rafiki in a hunting escapade will spend 11-years in jail after pleading guilty to the charges,
Rafiki, a member of the Silverback family from Nkuringo Group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was the head of a group of 17 habituated Mountain Gorrila’s. He had been missing for a day when eventually, his body was discovered. He was thought to be 25-years-old at the time of his death.
According to the postmortem report from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Rafiki was killed by a sharp object which penetrated his internal organs. In the aftermath, one Felix Byamukama, a resident of Murole Village in Kisoro Village was arrested after information linking him to the incident which took place on June 1 at Hakato inside the Park.
Byamukama, who was arrested together with Evarist Bampabenda, Valence Museveni and Yonasi Mubangizi, later confessed to having speared the gorilla to death in self-defence after the group charged at him while he was chasing a wild pig. He was also found in possession with rope snares and a dog hunting bell.
But after pleading guilty, Byamukama pleaded for pardon. But Kabale Chief Magistrate Julius Kyaka Borere sentenced him to 11-years in jail because he did not waste court time, by quickly admitting his case.
Byamukama will serve five years for killing a bush pig, and five more years for killing a duiker and for the illegal entry into a protected area. These two sentences will be served concurrently. Upon the completion of the two, he will then serve six more years for killing the Gorilla.
His co-accused; Bampabenda, Museveni and Mubangizi who denied the charges were remanded back to Kisoro government prison until further notice.
UWA Executive Director, Sam Mwandha welcomed the judgement saying that justice for Rafiki has been received. He says that if wildlife is killed, the department also loses. He adds that it is every body’s role to conserve wildlife.