Rafiki, the “king” of Uganda’s mountain gorillas killed. Now poachers risk life imprisonment – La Stampa


Rafiki was 25 years old. It was one of Uganda’s best-known mountain gorillas. Now that “king” has been killed by poachers. Police have arrested four people who, according to a wildlife protection law passed last year, face life in prison or a $ 5.4 million fine if they are found guilty of killing a specimen of a species. endangered.

The arrests came after investigations conducted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (Uwa) began «after a post mortem report revealed that the gorilla had been injured with a sharp device / object stuck in the upper left part of the abdomen until reaching the internal organs”. One of the detained men had been found in possession of wild pork, laces and spears of threads and ropes. The accused “confessed to killing the gorilla in self-defense” claiming that the gorilla had attacked him while he and another person were hunting for game in the park.

Rafiki was one of about 400 mountain gorillas in the country (half of the world’s population of this species) and Uwa calls his killing a “really hard blow”. The male specimen was the head of a group of 17 mountain gorillas used to having contact with humans. He was killed in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

“Rafiki’s death leaves the group unstable and there is a possibility that it may disintegrate,” explains Bashir Hangi of Uwa. The group “currently has no leadership and Rafiki could be replaced by a wild gorilla.” If so, the group would no longer want to get in touch with humans, which could also affect Uganda’s tourism, for which mountain gorillas are a source of interest.

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