Uganda has arrested four poachers over the killing of a famous silverback mountain gorilla in the southwestern district of Kisoro, a state run conservation agency said on Friday.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said in a statement that the four were arrested for the death of a gorilla known as Rakifi from the famous Nkuringo group in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Nkuringo was the first gorilla group to be habituated in the southern sector of the park in 1997. “The arrests follows investigations into the silverback’s death by our personnel after a postmortem revealed that the silverback sustained an injury by a sharp device that penetrated it’s left upper part of abdomen up to the internal organs,” said the statement.
The statement said that one of the suspects, Felix Byamukama who was found in possession of bush pig meat and several hunting devices, confessed to the killing of the gorilla in self-defense. “He says that he had gone hunting in the park with Evarist Bampabenda where they came in contact with the group. When the silverback charged at them, he speared it,” said the statement.
At the time of Rafiki’s death, the group had 17 family members that include a silverback, three blackbacks, eight adult females, two juveniles and three infants. The four suspects are currently detained at Kisoro police station awaiting trial in the courts of law.
Mountain gorillas are Uganda’s major tourism attraction. Uganda hosts over 50 percent of the global population of mountain gorillas, according to figures by UWA.