Eight rangers, soldiers killed in Virunga National Park

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
January 25, 2011



Yesterday morning, 3 wildlife rangers and 5 soldiers working in Virunga National Park were killed by the rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). These 8 were killed and 3 more wounded when their vehicle was fired on by FDLR rebels with rocket launchers. Park director Emmanuel de Merode told the AFP that it was the most serious incident to occur in Virunga National Park in the past 12 months.

Located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Virunga National Park is no stranger to conflict. In the past 15 years, the park has lost over 130 wildlife rangers to clashes with rebels and government soldiers using the park as a staging ground. According to the DRC's wildlife agency, ICCN, the attack was likely in retaliation for the destruction of two FDLR camps in the park by wildlife rangers last month.

Home to a quarter of the world's mountain gorillas, as well as chimpanzees, hippos, lions, forest elephants, and rare birds, Virunga National Park is one of Africa's most biodiverse parks and is classified by the UN as a World Heritage Site.

Recently, Virunga National Park made headlines due to plans by oil companies to begin exploration in the park. A spokesperson for one of the oil companies stated that the companies could bolster security in the park, but conservation organizations and the UN have condemned the plan to drill in the park.

"The eight rangers will be buried at Mai ya Moto, our burial site where we honor those who have died in our efforts to protect the park. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased and with the wounded in hospital," the official website of Virunga National Park said in an announcement.













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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (January 25, 2011).

Eight rangers, soldiers killed in Virunga National Park .

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0125-hance_virugna.html