Uganda: UWA Angry Over Light Penalty to Gorilla Killers

by Aug 12, 2011Great Apes

Kampala — The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) yesterday expressed dismay at the Shs50,000 penalty imposed on three convicted killers of a mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

In a press statement, UWA spokesperson Lillian Nsubuga said: “Although we will not appeal the sentence, we express our shock in the strongest terms and we will be bringing up this issue with the Office of the Chief Justice.”

Fideli Begumisa, Amos Kazongo and Ronald Byamugisha of Kanungu District were in June found guilty of killing Mizano, a gorilla from the “Habinyanja family”, using spears.

No heir left

The trio was charged at Kanungu Magistrates Court with entering a protected area without authority and possession of illegal devices capable of killing wildlife species. The court fined each them Shs50,000 each.

Ms Nsubuga said the “brutal” death of Mizano left a gaping hole in the family since he was the heir apparent to the only silverback in the family. “Conservation in Uganda continues to face the challenge of having judicial officials that do not fully appreciate the value of wildlife to the country, and are therefore ready to hand down light sentences to suspects,” Ms Nsubuga said.

Mountain gorillas are classified under Schedule 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, categorising them among the highly-endangered wildlife. They are only found in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo, with an estimated population of 800. Mountain gorillas are the highest contributor to tourism revenues in the country.