A rare silverback gorilla has been killed in Uganda, and the four poachers responsible for its death have been arrested.
Rafiki spent most of his life with the Nkuringo gorilla group in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, CNN reports. He regularly drew attention from tourists until his disappearance on June 1.
According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Rafiki’s body was discovered a day after he was reported missing, allegedly killed by stab wounds to the abdomen.
A man arrested in the park just 3 days after the incident was found with weapons and bush pig meat. He told authorities he was responsible for Rafiki’s death, but that he acted in self-defense. He said the gorilla charged him and three other hunters while they were looking for wild pigs.
All four suspects are now in custody, awaiting charges.
“We have arrested four people over the death of Rafiki, the Silverback of Nkuringo Gorilla group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park,” the Uganda Wildlife Authority tweeted. “They will be prosecuted in the courts of law.”
Rafikim, whose name means “friend” in Swahili, was the dominant male in the Nkuringo group, which contained 17 rare silverback gorillas before he was killed.
About half of the world’s mountain gorilla population now lives in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Nkuringo group made up some the the earliest residents of the park, shortly after it was established, the Uganda Wildlife Authority reports.
Today, according to the IUCN Red List, only about 600 Mountain Gorillas are left in the wild. They are considered endangered, and according to a report from the United Nations, may disappear from the Congo Basin in the next decade.
See more of Rafiki in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.