'Rafiki Has Received Justice'

Ugandan poacher sentenced to 11 years
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2020 10:14 AM CDT
Poacher Gets 11 Years for Killing Rare Gorilla
Authorities feared a wild silverback hostile to humans would replace Rafiki.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

There are only around 1,000 or so mountain gorillas left on the planet—and that number went down by one last month when a poacher in Uganda killed Rafiki, a silverback popular with tourists. The poacher, Felix Byamukama, had been part a group hunting illegally for bush meat in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Byamukama. who said he killed the 25-year-old gorilla with a spear in self-defense after it charged him, was sentenced to 11 years after pleading guilty to illegally entering the park and killing the gorilla, along with a bush pig and a small antelope, the BBC reports.

Three other members of the hunting party are in jail but have yet to be tried. "We are relieved that Rafiki has received justice and this should serve as an example to other people who kill wildlife," said Sam Mwandha, executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, per CNN. "If one person kills wildlife, we all lose, therefore we request every person to support our efforts of conserving wildlife." The wildlife authority says Byamukama could have received a life sentence if he had been tried by a special wildlife court. After Rafiki was killed, there were fears that a silverback more hostile to humans might take control of his 17-gorilla group, but a younger blackback gorilla from within the family has now taken charge. (More Uganda stories.)

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