Rangers and soldiers killed in Virunga National Park

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) are shocked and saddened to hear that three Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) rangers and five Congolese soldiers have been killed by suspected illegal Rwandan militia (FDLR) in the centre of Congo’s Virunga National Park.

A rocket-propelled grenade hit the early morning patrol when it fell into an ambush approximately one kilometer north of Mabenga, just inside the park border.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleagues who were killed in their efforts to protect the public from illegal armed groups. One hundred and thirty of Virunga’s rangers have died since the beginning of the war in 1996, but the park’s staff remains determined to protect the park,” said Virunga Park Director Emmanuel de Merode.

Park rangers and the Congolese army patrol the park to protect the public from FDLR militia and also the animals from poachers. The attack is thought to have been carried out in retaliation for the destruction of two camps by park rangers in December 2010.

The FDLR Rwandan militia is an illegal movement believed to include the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Over 400 park rangers protect Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a region affected by a 12-year civil war and political instability.

Virunga National Park was established in 1925 and is Africa’s oldest national park. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and it is home to 200 of the world’s mountain gorillas and a small population of eastern lowland gorillas. It was formerly known as Albert National Park and it covers 7,800 square kilometers.

Fauna & Flora International would like to offer our condolences to the families and colleagues of the rangers and soldiers.

For more information visit the official website of Virunga National Park.