Rafiki ‘silverblack gorilla’ killer sent to jail for 11yrs.

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The Magistrate Court in Kabale has sentenced to 11yrs in prison a local poacher identified as Felix Byamukama for killing the Rafiki mountain gorilla last month.

During a court session presided over by His Worship Julius Borere, Byamukama pleaded guilty to illegally entering a protected area and killing a gorilla.

Byamukama had previously said the gorilla attacked him and he had to kill Rafiki in self defence, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

He also pleaded guilty to killing a small antelope, known as a duiker, and a bush pig, as well as being in possession of bush pig and duiker meat.

Court sentenced him to 11years in jail which will run concurrently which falls far shorter of the life sentence it was predicted he could have been given.

This was because he was not tried in a special wildlife court, a UWA spokesperson told the BBC.

Byamukama had previously admitted to UWA  that he, and three others, had gone to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with the intention of hunting smaller animals and that he killed Rafiki in self-defence when he was attacked.

Investigations showed Rafiki was killed by a sharp object that penetrated his internal organs.

The gorilla went missing on 1 June and his body was discovered by a search party the following day.

UWA team tracked Byamukama and was found with hunting equipment in a nearby village in Kisoro district.

Upon his sentence, UWA said that Rafiki has received justice because over 10,000 Mountain gorillas are endangered with just over 1,000 in existence.

Three others denied the charges and have been remanded in jail, awaiting trial.

The silverback, believed to be around 25-years-old when he died, was the leader of a group of 17 mountain gorillas.

The silver black mountain gorillas group was described as habituated, meaning that its members were used to human contact.

In 2018, the group was removed from the list of critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, after intensive conservation efforts, including anti-poaching patrols, paid off.

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