The circumstances of the death of Rafiki, the dominant silverback of Nkuringo gorilla group, were officially released by the Uganda Wildlife Authority today, outlining the cause of death to be an injury sustained by a sharp object.
That sharp object seems to have been a spear, and a member of a community neighboring Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has confessed to killing the silverback when it charged him and others who were in the park to hunt wild meat. Wildlife in national parks in Uganda are protected by law, and mountain gorillas as an Endangered species have universal protection. The member of the community implicated, and his accomplices, are currently in police custody.
Mountain gorilla monitoring and protection continues, at a time of substantial hardships related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism and other sectors of the economies around mountain gorilla parks. There are indications of higher than normal human activities illegal under law, referred to as poaching.
“Whereas the purposeful targeting of mountain gorillas by poachers is rare, this incident highlights the threats posed to mountain gorillas, whether from injuries and infection from snares left to trap duikers, attacks from hunting dogs, or injury from weapons like the spear which caused Rafiki’s death,” commented Anna Behm Masozera, Director of the coalition International Gorilla Conservation Programme. “Peaceful co-existence is essential to securing the future for mountain gorillas, and is a pursuit which merges law enforcement with dialog and effective engagement with park neighbours.”
The last time a mountain gorilla was known to have been killed by a spear was in June 2011.
Here is a press statement from Uganda Wildlife Authority with details about the incident. PRESS STATEMENT – UWA ARRESTS 4 OVER DEATH OF A GORILLA