Robert Byarugaba, now 45, began poaching with his father in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest at just eight years old. “My dad would force me to follow him to go in the park because I was his only son,” Byarugaba says. “We poached and hunted from Monday to Sunday. Every day we would be in the forest.” The father and son weren’t the only ones, there were many hunters who combed the forest for bushpigs, antelopes, goats, and sometimes gorillas. The great apes might be killed to feed local families, or their meat and body parts could fetch high sums on the market for bush meat or traditional medicine. Read more: Dian Fossey: Gorilla researcher in the mist Uganda is home to almost half of the world’s estimated 1,000 surviving mountain gorillas . In 1991, when the primates’ population fell to an estimated 300 animals, the Ugandan government made Bwindi a national park. That meant increased protection and regulation of access to the park. But many poachers continued to hunt all the same because their livelihoods depended on it. Read more: Gorilla population in Africa rises After five years, Byarugaba gave up poaching and began to grow coffee, but he couldn’t sell… Read full this story
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