December 18, 2012
Atamato Madrandele, 1969 - 2012
Atamato Madrandele, Chief Warden of Upemba National Park, was ambushed and killed December 16, 2012 by Mai-Mai militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reports the Upemba Conservation Project.
Madrandele was killed as he was returning to the park's headquaters, according to the conservation group. Madrandele was 43.
"Atamato driving his motorcycle from Kiubo to Lusinga when he encountered an ambush by a group of MaiMai and was shot," said Upemba Conservation Project in a post on its Facebook page.
Gorilla.cd, the official website of Virunga National Park, confirmed Madrandele's murder in a post on its blog.
"We’ve just received the tragic news that Atama, who was our Sector Warden for the [Northern] Sector of Virunga until last year, was murdered by Mai Mai militias as he was returning on a motorbike back to his park headquarters at Upemba National Park."
The Upemba Conservation Project said the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) and the Zoologische Gesellschaft Frankfurt are bringing Madrandele's body back to Lubumbashi. A funeral will be held on Saturday. ICCN has called for an investigation into the ranger's murder.
Madrandele leaves behind a wife, a young daughter, and a son. Gorilla.cd is asking for contributions to provide for the family.
Mai-Mai rebels were linked to the brutal slaughter of six people this past June at the headquarters of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the town of Epulu. The militia also killed 14 okapi. The raid was reportedly linked to a crackdown on illegal elephant poaching and gold mining inside the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. In October, the Mai-Mai killed attacked a ranger patrol in Virunga National Park killing two park staff and one government soldier.
More than 120 rangers have been killed in the line of duty in Congo over the past decade due to the ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the country.
Okapi Conservation Project wins mongabay's 2012 conservation award
(12/06/2012) A group that works to protect the rare okapi, a type of forest giraffe found only in the Congo Basin, has has won mongabay.com's 2012 conservation award. The Okapi Conservation Project has been working to protect the okapi and its habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for 25 years. The group was instrumental in establishing the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a 13,700-square-kilometer tract of wilderness in the Ituri Forest of northeastern DRC. While the Okapi Conservation Project has had a long track record of success, earlier this year it was devastated by a brutal attack on the reserve's headquarters. Two wildlife rangers were among the six people killed during June 24 assault.
Conflict and perseverance: rehabilitating a forgotten park in the Congo
(09/19/2012) Zebra racing across the yellow-green savannah is an iconic image for Africa, but imagine you're seeing this not in Kenya or South Africa, but in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Welcome to Upemba National Park: once a jewel in the African wildlife crown, this protected area has been decimated by civil war. Now, a new bold initiative by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), dubbed Forgotten Parks, is working to rehabilitate Upemba after not only decades of conflict but also poaching, neglect, and severe poverty.