The man who pleaded guilty to killing Rafiki, one of Uganda’s best known mountain gorillas is to spend 11 years behind bars.
Appearing before Kabale Chief Magistrate’s Court, Felix Byamukama pleaded guilty to three offences; illegally entering a protected area (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park), killing a gorilla and a duiker.
In the first case file, the Chief Magistrate, Julius Borere sentenced Byamukama to five, six and five years respectively. He’s to serve all the three sentences concurrently.
In the second case file, Byamukama pleaded guilty to the offence of killing a bush pig, being in possession of bush pig and duiker meat. He was sentenced to five years for each offence and this, court said he will serve concurrently after his sentences in the first case file.
This therefore, means he will spend 11 years in jail for all the offences unless he appeals.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) executive director, Mr Sam Mwandha welcomed the court’s decision saying it would serve as an example to the would be offenders. He asked all Ugandans to support efforts of conserving wildlife in the country.
“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. We, therefore, request every person to support our efforts of conserving wildlife for the present and future generations,” Mr Mwandha added.
Mr Mwandha further said the new Wildlife Act 2019 is tough and that anyone involved in illegal wildlife activities would face the law.
On June 1, 2020, Rafiki, the rare silverback mountain gorrilla belonging to Nkuringo group was reported missing. However, after intense search and rescue efforts, his body was recovered in Hakato area inside Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Court heard that Byamukama, a resident of Murole village, Nteko Parish, Nyabwishenya Sub County, Kisoro District was arrested on June 4, 2020 on suspicion of killing Rafiki. He was also found in possession of bush pig meat and several hunting equipment.
He later pleaded guilty to the offences when he appeared before a magistrate while his alleged accomplices; Evarist Bampabenda, Valence Museveni and Yonasi Mubangizi denied the charges and were further remanded to Kisoro prisons.