Africa's most famous silverback gorilla Rafiki killed by poachers
13 Jun 2020
Image only for representation
One of Africa’s most famous mountain gorillas, Rafiki, has been killed.
Four men have been arrested in Uganda and face a life sentence if found guilty of killing an endangered gorilla.
Rafiki was killed by a sharp object that penetrated his internal organs, an investigation found. There are only 1,000 of his species left in Uganda and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) described Rafiki's death as a "very big blow".
The silverback gorilla was the leader of a group of 17 mountain gorillas.
Bashir Hangi from the UWA told the BBC:
The death of Rafiki leaves the group unstable and there is the possibility that it could disintegrate.
It has no leadership at this time and it could be taken over by a wild silverback.
To find the poachers, a UWA team tracked a suspect to a nearby village, where he was found with hunting equipment. He admitted that he, and three others, had been hunting smaller animals in the park and that he killed Rafiki in self-defence when he was attacked.
The mountain gorilla species is restricted to protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. They are classified as endangered.