By Spy Uganda
Kabale: The Kabale Chief Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday sentenced Felix Byamukama to 11 years in prison for killing Rafiki, the Silverback of Nkuringo Gorilla group and other wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Byamukama pleaded guilty to killing a small antelope, known as Duiker, and a bush pig, as well as being in possession of bush pig and Duiker meat. The Chief Magistrate, His Worship Julius Borere, sentenced him to 5, 6 and 5 years respectively, which punishments are to be served concurrently. Therefore, he will serve a total of 11 years in prison.
Byamukama, a resident of Murole village, Nteko Parish, Nyabwishenya Sub-County, Kisoro District, was arrested on June 4, 2020, following the death of Rakifi, and was found in possession of bush pig meat and several hunting equipment, including a spear, rope snares, wire snares and a dog hunting bell, which 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 Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Sam Mwandha, welcomed the court’s decision, saying that Rafiki has received justice. “We are relieved that Rafiki has received justice and this should be an example to other people who kill wildlife.”
He added; “If one person kills wildlife, we all lose; therefore we request every person to support our efforts of conserving wildlife for present and future generations”
Mwandha further said that the new law (Wildlife Act 2019) is tough and that anyone involved in illegal wildlife activities will face the wrath of the law.
The Silverback gorilla, believed to be around 25-years-old at the time of death, was the leader of a group of 17 mountain gorillas that was described as habituated, meaning that its members were used to human contact.
Conservationists were worried that the group would be taken over by a wild Silverback who would not want to come into contact with humans, which could adversely affect tourism. However, UWA has since confirmed that the group is now led by a black-back from within the family and is stable.