Rafiki: the killer of a rare silverback gorilla jailed for 11 years


The gorilla – known as Rafiki, which means ‘friend’ in Swahili – was part of the famous Nkuringo gorilla group that lives in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is extremely popular with tourists.

Rafiki was reported missing on June 1 and his mutilated body found the next day inside the park.

An autopsy report revealed that Rafiki was injured by a sharp device to the abdomen and internal organs.

Byamukama Felix was arrested days later with bushmeat pork and several hunting gear in his possession, authorities said.

Byamukama pleaded guilty to several counts, including murdering a gorilla, entering a protected area and possession of illegal meat.He told authorities he killed Rafiki in self-defense when he went with a group to hunt in the park and they encountered the group of gorillas. Silverback charged and he threw it, he said.

Three other men who were arrested with Felix are still in detention awaiting trial because they have pleaded not guilty.

UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandha praised the court’s decision, saying “Rafiki has received justice.”

“We are relieved that Rafiki has received justice and it should serve as an example for others who kill wild animals.

“If one person kills wildlife we ​​all lose, which is why we ask each person to support our efforts to conserve wildlife for present and future generations,” he added.

At the time of Rafiki’s death, Nkuringo’s group numbered 17 gorillas, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The silverback was the dominant male of the group which also included three blackbacks or younger mature males, eight adult females, two juveniles and three infants.

The group were the first to reside in the southern part of the park, which is home to around half of the world’s mountain gorilla population.


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