World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Country Director in Uganda, David Duli, has condemned the selfish act of killing “Rafiki” a gorilla in the Southern sector of Bwindi and emphasized that gorillas like any other animal play an important role in the environment.
“Gorillas, like all wild animals play an important role in the environment. Without these large scale grazers eating loss of vegetation, the natural balance in the food chain would be disrupted. This could negatively affect other wildlife in the area and ultimately the people who depend on that environment for food, water and other resources.”
In a statement released, Duli calls upon the courts to justly deal with the culprits if found guilty because poachers always bribe their way to freedom.
“While poachers that kill even one legally protected animal are often held to account in mountain gorilla range, poachers often bribe their way to freedom.”
He adds that, “Gorillas are important contributors to the Uganda tourism industry, each habituated mountain gorilla is estimated to generate $ 1 million per year for the Ugandan Economy.
On June 12th, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) released a statement on the death of Rafiki, the lead and only Silverback of Nkuringo group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda.
Rafiki was reported missing in the group and on June 2nd, 2020, a search was mounted and the body found in Hakato area inside Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
UWA arrested four poachers identified as Byamukama Felix, Bampabenda Evarist, Museveni Valence and Mubangiyi Yonasi.
The four were arrested following the investigations into the death of the Gorilla, whose postmortem report had revealed that Rafiki had sustained an injury by a sharp device that penetrated its left upper part of the abdomen up to the internal organs.
“Byamukama confessed to killing the gorilla in self-defence. He says that he had gone hunting in the park with Bampabenda where they came into contact with the group. When the Silverback charged at them, he speared it.” The statement reads.
UWA revealed that Byamukama shared the bush meat with Museveni and Mubandiyi whom he said were fellow poachers.
The four suspects are currently being detained at Kisoro Police Station awaiting trial in the courts of law.
The Nkuringo Gorilla Group were “Rafiki” hailed from is the first group to be habituated in the Southern Sector of BINP.
The group had 17 members with one Silverback, three blackbacks, eight adult females, two juveniles and three infants.
However, WWF is working with gorilla range governments to increase the number of wildlife rangers to protect against poachers. The organisation also supports greater law enforcement cooperation between countries to disrupt illegal wildlife trade.