A violent attack on the Garamba National Park headquarters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has left at least eight people dead and several more people injured.
Despite resistance from the park rangers and Congolese Armed Forces, numerous casualties and extensive material damage have been reported.
Initial reports suggest that among the eight people killed were two park rangers and the wives of two park wardens, as well as an unconfirmed number of rebels.
The Ugandan rebels attacked the park in Nagero, located in north-eastern DR Congo, on 2 January, destroying several buildings. Communications and transport equipment was also destroyed, including a satellite station and two micro light planes. Fuel and food stores were ransacked, leaving the headquarters in a state of havoc.
Military and humanitarian assistance is being deployed in order to secure the area and help people displaced by the attack, as well as to assess the full extent of the losses.
Fauna & Flora International has been working with the Congolese Institute of Nature Conservation (ICCN) and our partner on the ground – African Parks Foundation – since 2005 to involve local communities in looking after the park in a bid to tackle the poaching of rare wildlife for ivory and meat and provide them with alternative livelihoods.
FFI’s project in Garamba helped to establish a network of Community Conservation Committees which are intended to act as a model for other parks in DRC to help protect the war-torn country’s precious remaining biodiversity.
Thalia Liokatis, Fauna & Flora International’s DRC Programme Coordinator, said: “This attack is tragic for the people living and working in and around the park and it represents a devastating set back to our conservation efforts in Garamba. We now desperately need to raise funds to support the park and its staff and to begin the process of rebuilding the park’s administrative centre, so it can continue operating”.
Garamba National Park (NP) is located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, along the border with Sudan. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, the park still harbours populations of elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos and numerous other species of ungulates. The presence of the Northern white rhinoceros remains to be confirmed.