By Justus Kopiyo
The Kabale Chief Magistrate’s Court has sentenced Felix Byamukama to 11 years in prison for killing Rafiki, the Silverback of Nkuringo Gorilla group and other wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Byamukama pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal entry into a protected area, killing a gorilla and a duiker. The Chief Magistrate, Julius Borere, sentenced him to five, six, and five years respectively to be served concurrently.
In a second case file, Byamukama pleaded guilty to counts of killing a bush pig, being in possession of bush pig and duiker meat for which he was sentenced to five years on each count, to run concurrently after serving the first six years on case file one. Therefore, he will serve a total of 11 years in prison.
Mr Byamukama is a resident of Murole village, Nteko Parish, Nyabwishenya Sub County, Kisoro District was arrested on June 4, following the death of Rakifi a Silverback of Nkuringo group and was found in possession of bush pig meat and several hunting devices including a spear, rope snares, wires snares and a dog hunting bell that were recovered from his home.
His three colleagues Mr Evarist Bampabenda, Mr Valence Museveni and Mr Yonasi Mubangizi denied the charges and were remanded to Kisoro prisons.
The executive director UWA, Sam Mwandha welcomed the court’s decision saying that Rafiki has received justice.
“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” Mr Mwandha said.
He added that the new law (Wildlife Act 2019) is tough and that anyone involved in illegal wildlife activities will face the wrath of the law.
On June 1, Rafiki, the silver back of Nkuringo gorilla group was reported missing in the group and on June 2, our team mounted a search for the missing silver back. The body of Rafiki was found in Hakato area inside BINP.