A poacher has been jailed for 11 years after he confessed to killing a rare mounteen silverback gorilla in Uganda last month.
The gorilla, named Rafiki, which means “friend” in Swahili — was part of the famed Nkuringo gorilla group that lives in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is a legend among tourists across the world.
Rafiki was reported missing on June 1 and his mutilated body was found the next day inside the park.
A postmortem report revealed that Rafiki was injured by a sharp device to his abdomen and internal organs.
The poacher Byamukama Felix was arrested a few days later with bush pig meat and several hunting devices in his possession, authorities said.
Byamukama pleaded guilty to several charges, including killing a gorilla, entering a protected area and being in possession of illegal meat.
The convicted told authorities he killed Rafiki in self-defense when he went with a group to hunt in the park and they came across the group of gorillas. The silverback charged and he speared it, he said.
Three other men who were arrested with Felix remain in custody awaiting trial as they have pleaded not guilty.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government has taken decision to open up parts of two protected national parks Virunga and Salonga, habitat to endangered species such as mountain gorillas, to oil drilling.
Lifting of the protection of endangered species habitat evoked fierce opposition from environmental activists, who say drilling would place wildlife at risk. Many blame irresponsible attitude to the national parks to a weak democratic institutions in Congo, unable to protect the UNESCO protected sites in favor of oil industry.
Experts also fear it will release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
DCR government has defended its right to manage resources of Congo, and said it was mindful of protecting animals and plants in the two UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Cabinet said it had approved the establishment of commissions charged with preparing plans to declassify sections of the parks, including 1,720 sq km (664 sq miles), or 21.5% , of eastern Congo’s Virunga.
Five rangers and their driver are found murdered at the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an official said.
The group was murdered in an ambush by suspected rebels operating in the park, police reaffirms.
Virunga boasts Africa’s most diverse wildlife habitat and is home to endangered mountain gorillas.
Some of Congo’s armed groups are also based in the park, where they often poach animals.
Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world’s remaining 880 mountain gorillas, as well as lions, elephants and hippos.
More than 130 park rangers have been killed in the park since 1996.