By Justin Omara
Kanungu—12, June 2020: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) has lost its only surviving silverback gorilla of the famous Nkuringo pack in the hands of poachers.
According to Bashir Hangi, the park’s Communications Manager, on 1, June 2020, Rafiki, the silver back of Nkuringo gorilla group was reported missing in the group and on 2, June 2020, BINP team mounted a search for the missing silverback. The body of Rafiki was found in Hakato area inside BINP.
Investigations into the silverback’s death swiftly commenced by BINP personnel. A post-mortem report revealed that the silverback sustained an injury by a sharp device and or object that penetrated its left upper part of the abdomen up to the internal organs.
“The team arrested Byamukama Felix a resident of Murole village, Nteko Parish, Nyabwishenya sub-county, Kisoro District who 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 on 4, June 2020,” said Bashir.
He adds that Byamukama confessed to killing the gorilla in self-defence, arguing that he had gone hunting in the park with Bampabenda Evarist where they came into contact with the group. When the silverback charged at them, he speared it.
The poacher revealed that he shared some bush pig meat with Museveni Valence and Mubangizi Yonasi, whom he said were fellow poachers. The UWA team working with the Chairman LC1 of Murole village Mr Ngabirano Pascal, arrested Bampabenda Evarist, Museveni Valence and Mubangisi Yonasi on 7, June 2020.
The four suspects are currently at Kisoro Police station awaiting trial in the Courts of Law.
Nkuringo is the first guerrilla group to be habituated in the southern sector of BINP in 1997.
At the time of Rafiki’s death, the group had 17 members; 1 Silverback, 3 Black-backs, 8 adult females, 2 juveniles, and 3 infants.
UWA says it is monitoring the group to ensure it is ready for tourism when the park reopens to the public.