Four men face life in prison for killing Uganda’s most beloved gorilla,
Rafiki. The 25-year-old endangered silverback was one of only 1,004
mountain gorillas left in the wild and headed up a human-habituated
family of 17 in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
He went missing on June 1 and his body was found a day later. A post
mortem found Rafiki sustained an injury by a sharp device/object that
penetrated its left upper part of the abdomen up to the internal organs,
according to a statement by The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
“The death of Rafiki leaves the group unstable and there is the
possibility that it could disintegrate,” Bashir Hangi from the UWA told
The Bwindi Park makes millions from tourists hoping to catch a glimpse
of the endangered animals, and due to the coronavirus, Uganda lost $1.6
billion this year in revenue. Across Africa, the tourism sinkhole has
created a poaching boom, which scientists warn could fuel more
It is especially worrisome as gorillas have been linked to Ebola outbreaks — another of which just popped up in nearby Congo.
The suspects were caught in a nearby village where they were found with hunting equipment.
One of the detained men, Byamukama Felix, claimed he had been hunting
smaller animals in the park and that he killed Rafiki in self-defence
when he was attacked, according to the UWA statement.
All of the men arrested for Rafiki’s killing face life imprisonment or a
$5 million fine if found guilty of murdering an endangered species.