Killer of Uganda mountain gorilla sentenced to 11 years in prison

Endangered mountain gorillas from the Bitukura family, play inside a forest in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the Ruhija sector of the park, about 550 km (341 miles) west of Uganda’s capital Kampala, May 24, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A court in southwestern Uganda has sentenced a man to 11 years in jail after he was found guilty of killing a mountain gorilla and other wildlife in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

The poacher, named Felix Byamukama, pleaded guilty to counts of trespassing in a protected area, killing a gorilla, a duiker and a bush pig, and illegally possessing meat from the bush pig and duiker, state-backed conservation group the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said in a statement on Thursday.

Byamukama was arrested on June 4 together with his three accomplices, following the death of Rafiki, a silverback belonging to the Nkuringo gorilla group. His accomplices denied the charges and were remanded in Kisoro prison in Uganda’s Western Region.

Sam Mwandha, UWA executive director, welcomed the ruling, noting that justice had been done for Rafiki.

“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; therefore, we request every person to support our efforts of conserving wildlife for the present and future generations,” Mwandha said.

Mountain gorillas are one of Uganda’s major tourist attractions, as the country hosts over 50 percent of the global population of mountain gorillas, according to figures from the UWA.

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