Ranger shot and killed in Virunga National Park

A Virunga National Park patrol in the Democratic Republic of Congo came under attack on Friday 8 April, resulting in the death of a park ranger, Magayane Bazirushaka.

The attack took place in Nyamulagira secteur, which connects via a corridor with Mikeno secteur, the operational area of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme.

The 15-member patrol was ambushed while working in the forest north of Nyiragongo Volcano. The patrol was looking for illegal charcoal production, an industry that appears to be increasing in the region.

A group of uniformed FDLR Rwandan militia opened fire on the rangers in what appeared to be a planned ambush. Magayane took a bullet in the pelvis and the rangers returned fire until the militia group fled. Magayane was carried back to the closest village where park trucks waited, but he died shortly after. His funeral took place on Saturday in his home village of Jomba.

International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) staff were not involved nor in the area at the time.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI), together with WWF and AWF are founding members behind the IGCP, whose mission is to conserve mountain gorillas and their forest habitat.

Bruce Liggitt, Africa Programme Coordinator for FFI said, “FFI was saddened to hear of the death of Magayane Bazirushaka, another ranger tragically killed in the course of his duties in the Virunga National Park. These men are true heroes who risk their lives every day to protect the last remaining mountain gorillas. We wish to offer our sincere condolences to Magayane’s family and colleagues.”

Tourist treks to the volcano have been closed for a week while major patrol operations attempt to clear the area of the rebel FDLR threat.

Donations to the Virunga Widows’ Fund are gratefully accepted.