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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.

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