Wildlife conservation

First Red List of British Mammals explained
Wildcats, red squirrels and hedgehogs all feature, as science correspondent Victoria Gill reports.

Killer of rare gorilla jailed for 11 years

Patience Atuhaire

BBC News, Kampala

Rafiki the gorilla
Uganda Wildlife Authority
Rafiki was the leader of Uganda's oldest group of mountain gorillas

A court in Uganda has sentenced a man to 11 years in prison, for the killing of a silverback mountain gorilla in early June.

The silverback - named Rafiki - was the leader of the oldest group of the rare mountain gorillas to ever be habituated in the country, and was found dead with injuries to the stomach.

Felix Byamukama, who pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal entry into a protected area, was also convicted for the killing of a duiker and bushpig by the magistrate’s court in the Western town of Kabale on Wednesday.

Conservationists were worried that the habituated group - meaning that it is used to human contact - would be taken over by a wild silverback. But the Wildlife Authority has since confirmed that the group of 11 is stable, now led by a blackback from within the family.

There are just over 1,000 mountain gorillas in existence in the wild, which live in conservation area across Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are a vital source of tourism revenue for all three countries.

The country's wildlife body has recently raised concern about an increase in poaching, with over 300 incidents recorded during the months of the lockdown when tourism was shutdown.

The sector has now been reopened for selected conservation areas.

Team Lioness: the women protecting Kenya's wildlife

"In my community they believe this physical job is only for men"
Meet Team Lioness: a group of female park rangers in Kenya who are just beginning to see family members for the first time in many months as Kenya eases its four month coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

The job of Team Lioness is to protect wildlife from poaching and trafficking in bushmeat - a task which became even tougher during the pandemic. 

Purity Lakara - one of the rangers in Amboseli National Park in the south of Kenya, described some of the risks involved in the job.

(Photo: Purity Lakara. Credit: Team Lioness)

Malawi jails nine over wildlife crimes

Tourists watching an African elephant bull on the shore of the Shire River in Liwonde National Park, Malawi.
Getty Images
There is a demand for elephant tusks, rhino horns and other animal parts

Seven Chinese nationals and two Malawians have been jailed for seven years for illegal possession of ivory, rhino horns and pangolin scales.

The nine were part of a group of 14 people who were detained last year after arrests during police raids.

They are part of wildlife trafficking gangs according to local media.

One alleged leader of a trafficking gang who was arrested last year is expected to appear in court on Wednesday for charges of possession of rhino horn, conspiracy and money-laundering.

Malawi’s Director of National Parks & Wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa said that the successful prosecution of the nine people was a victory for all Malawians.

He said the country was "no longer a playground" for people who "exploit our natural heritage, damage our economy, incite corruption and pose a risk to national security".

Poaching accounts for 60% of wildlife deaths according to conservation group WWF.

There is a demand for elephant tusks, rhino horns and other animal parts for their purported medicinal value.