Man who killed Rafiki, Uganda's rare silverback mountain gorilla, jailed

Gone. Rafiki the silverback of Nkuringo

Gone. Rafiki the silverback of Nkuringo gorilla group was reported missing in the group on June 1

Besides the killing of Rafiki, poachers in recent weeks have mostly hunted smaller animals, such as antelope, probably to eat them rather than for trading.

The silverback Rafiki, which translates to "friend" in Swahili - led the Nkuringo troop, consisting of more than a dozen gorillas, that has been popular with visitors to a national park in Uganda for decades, The New York Times reported.

A Ugandan court has sentenced a poacher to 11 years in jail for killing a rare, endangered mountain gorilla, a conservation official said Thursday.

The poacher admitted to going hunting in the park but claimed he had killed Rafiki in self-defence after the silverback charged at the hunting party.

Uganda's wildlife authority hailed "justice for Rafiki" today after Byamukama was sent to jail.

The gorilla was discovered dead by Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) rangers after it went missing on June 1.

Byamukama Felix was arrested a few times afterwards with bush pig meat and quite a few looking products in his possession, authorities reported.

A post mortem found that the gorilla sustained an injury by a sharp object that penetrated its left upper part of the abdomen up to the internal organs, according to the UWA.

The Chief Magistrate His Worship Julius Borere sentenced him to 5, 6, and 5 years respectively to be served concurrently.

UWA Executive Director, Sam Mwandha welcomed the judgement saying that justice for Rafiki has been received.

"This should serve as an example to other people who kill wildlife".

The man, who says he did it in self-defense, pleaded guilty in committing the crime.

This photo taken by a camera trap shows a Cross River gorilla in the Mbe Mountains of Nigeria.

The gorillas weigh up to 440lbs and have thicker fur than other great apes, meaning they can survive in colder mountain temperatures.

Around 1,000 mountain gorillas live in protected areas in Congo, Uganda and Rwanda, serving as a critical source of tourism revenue for those countries.

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