Mountain gorilla killed by poachers in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Mountain gorilla killed by poachers in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

On June 17th, 2011, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) staff in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park discovered the mountain gorilla named Mizano in the Habinyanja family group dead. Initial reports are that the gorilla was speared by the poachers who were in the forest targeting small antelopes. A necropsy has since been performed and the specific circumstances surrounding the death are yet to be released by UWA.

Stephen Asuma, International Gorilla Conservation Programme’s Country Representative in Uganda reports that community leaders and government agencies are participating actively in the ongoing investigation. “Everyone is very concerned about this incident, which is a testimony to the value that local communities and government alike place on these animals,” he said. There have been unconfirmed reports of an arrest made regarding this incident, but confirmation and details are currently not available.

“It is important for us to first find out exactly what happened. Was this killing accidental in self protection or intentional? Once we know what happened, we can better identify what actions we need to take to prevent this from happening again,” said Asuma.

This incident happened in the Bujengwe area, Kayonza Sub County, Kanungu District. Meetings between UWA and local leaders, community members and district officials have been happening with the objective of stepping up vigilance towards poaching and other illegal activities.

The Habinyanja group was one of the first groups to be habituated in the Buhoma area. “While there are several programs to share revenue from mountain gorilla tourism with communities around protected areas, we still have poaching for small antelopes happening in the park. The community near where this incident happened has not been specifically targeted for tourism development and the sensitization and direct benefits that comes with it,” said Asuma. “We will continue to work with communities and UWA to find win-win situations for conservation of mountain gorillas and communities.”

This is not the first mountain gorilla to die at the hands of people, whether by accident or intention. In 2009, a mountain gorilla was accidentally killed while it was outside of the park by a woman who threw a stone in an attempt to chase the mountain gorilla back into the forest. And in the early 1990s, four mountain gorillas were killed at the hands of poachers on the Ruhija side of the park. In 2002, a plotted attempt at poaching was thwarted when concerned community members informed UWA in advance.

Meanwhile, the recent death of Mizano leaves the Habinyanja goup with 16 individuals and without any other black backs. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is coordinating the release of any additional information, which IGCP will pass on as a comment to this post on the IGCP blog: www.igcp.org/blog/.

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The International Gorilla Conservation Programme is a coalition of the African Wildlife Foundation, Fauna & Flora International, and the World Wide Fund for Nature. A complete census of the population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park will be conducted in September and October of 2011.

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  1. Anna Behm Masozera

    For those of you interested in the details of the previous incidents in Bwindi: The last intentional gorilla poaching in Bwindi was in mid-March 1995 when four gorillas from Kyagurilo group were killed (adult female, black back and 2 juveniles). And in 2009, an adult female from Mubare group that was killed by a woman throwing rocks when the gorilla was feeding in her banana plantation. The farmer said that in the rush to chase the gorilla away and protect her children, she threw some stones, not meaning to directly hit Kashongo. The cause of death was a cracked skull.

  2. Anna Behm Masozera

    Update: The Uganda Wildlife Authority has reported that three have been arrested related to this case. The three arrests were made in Karambi Cell, Muramba Parish, Mpungu sub-county, Kanungu District and the pursuit of the suspects was aided by sniffer dogs. Four additional suspects are still being pursued. Consistent with what we originally reports, it appears the poachers, having killed a duiker, accidentally encountered the gorillas and in the ensuing scuffle between the poachers’ dogs and the gorillas, Mizano was speared and the poachers ran away leaving behind the duiker.

    • niringiye fred

      these people around muramba needs some sensitisation about the importance of gorillas cause most of them are illiterate so you need to employ us the residents of mgahinga since we have a skill in conservation. first of all to talk about my self ifeel much cheated seeing people being employed as staff from other regions of uganda leaving us who are real residents. i have just completed B.A in social anthropology by thesis : B.a thsis the case of batwa liveli hood in south westermn uganda . so since i also have knowledge in conservation ineed to be employed in gorilla organisaton cause i will be able to sensitise people about the importance of gorillas to the ugandan economy. thanx

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