Kisoro Grade I Magistrate Rapheal Vueni on Friday charged and remanded four men suspected to have killed a mountain gorilla in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Court heard from the prosecution that Byamukama Felix, Bampabenda Evarist, Museveni Valence and Mubangizi Yonasi between June 1st and 2nd 2020 while in the Southern Sector of Bwindi national park, caused the death of a gorilla, named Rafiki a Silverback of the famous Nkuringo group.
Court also heard that Byamukama Felix, a resident of Murole village, Nyabwishenya Sub County in Kisoro District 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 June 4.
Magistrate Rapheal Vueni did not allow the four to take plea as his court has no jurisdiction over such a matter, and remanded them to Kisoro central prison till June 29th 2020 when the case will come up for mention.
Byamukama confessed to killing the gorilla in self-defence.
He said he and Bampabenda Evarist had gone hunting in the park and came into contact with the group. When the silverback charged at them, he he said, he speared it.
After the hunt, he says he shared some of the bush pig meat with Museveni Valence and Mubangizi Yonasi, his fellow poachers.
Section 71 of the Uganda Wildlife Act 2019 which talks of offences relating to protected species states that “A person who without a permit takes, hunts, molests or reduces into possession protected specimen; or is found in possession of, sells, buys, transfers or accepts transfer of protected specimen; commits an offence”
The same law adds that where an offence relates to a species classified as extinct in the wild or critically endangered or endangered (as is the case with mountain gorillas), upon conviction, such a person will be liable to a fine not exceeding one million currency points (Shs 20bn) or to life imprisonment or both.