Three suspected poachers have been arrested over the brutal killing of a 12-year-old male mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, south-western Uganda, on June 17. Four others are on the run.
The robust gorilla identified as Mizaano, who was the only black back in the Habinyanja mountain gorilla family, was speared to death as he tried to fight the poachers’ hunting dogs. The poachers had reportedly laid traps in the forest, targeting antelopes, duikers and other edible animals, but the traps caught the male gorilla instead.
The three suspects, who are alleged to be notorious poachers, are: Amos Kazongo, 52; Fidel Bemugisha,53 and Leonard Byamugisha, 22, all residents of Mpungu sub-county in Kanungu district. Those on the run were only identified as Bagoro, Mbabazi and Kashabe.
Conservation through Public Health (CTPH) doctors, headed by Dr Stephen Lubanga, carried out a postmortem whose preliminary finding showed that the gorilla died a brutal death because it was speared through the right side of the shoulder into the lungs, causing it to suffocate.
Mountain gorillas, the lifeline of Uganda’s tourism industry, are critically endangered, with only 720 individuals remaining in the world. More than a half of the total population is found in Bwindi, where they are threatened with encroachment on their habitat, low birth rates and zoonotic diseases.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the death of six lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Ampurira Brian 26 years, Tumuhire Vincent 49 years, Aliyo Robert 40 years and Miliango David 68 years were arrested last night during a joint operation mounted by UWA, UPDF and Police in Kyenyabutongo village, Rusoroza Parish, Kihihi Sub County, Kanungu District.
Today at daybreak, the suspects took the security team to a location where 3 heads of lions were found hidden in a tree and the fourth one was buried with 15 legs under the same tree. The suspects said they dropped one leg in the park.
Three bottles containing a chemical commonly known as Furadan and a two-litre jerrycan of lion fat oil were recovered in a banana plantation. Two spears, one panga and one hunting net were found hidden in a garden at the home of Tumuhire Vincent.
The carcases of the lions were discovered at Ishasha sector on the evening of Friday, March 19, 2021. Nine dead vulture; one White-headed vulture and eight White-backed vultures which are listed as critically endangered species were also found in the same place. Upon their discovery, we launched investigations into the matter. On Monday evening we received credible information about the people suspected to be behind the killing of the lions and acting on the same, a joint operation by UPDF, Police and UWA was conducted leading to the arrest of the four suspects. The suspects will be arraigned in the courts of law.
We applaud the security agencies that joined the operation to hunt the people behind the death of our lions and the leadership of Kanungu district for the support extended to the security teams.
We assure the public that we shall continue to strengthen the protection of lions and other wildlife in Uganda and will pursue this case until justice for the dead lions is served. Our national parks remain safe and attractive to visitors and we still have lions in Queen Elizabeth and other parks.