Update: Missing gorilla rangers return safely in Congo, one dies of cholera in camp
Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com
November 6, 2008
All of the missing rangers have now been accounted for after they fled Virunga Park Headquarters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The headquarters was seized by rebels led by Laurent Nkunda on October 26th.
The rangers fled to different destinations, some of them walking up to five days without food, water, or shelter. Though a few have yet to return, all of them have been accounted for through cell phones or sightings.
Due to the unrest in the area, a refugee camp was set up in the town of Goma. Many of the rangers have returned to Goma and their families. Cholera has swept the camp, however, and one ranger has died in the hospital from the disease.
Map courtesy of the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN).
In the last decade, 120 rangers have died due to the civil conflict in the DRC. Virunga’s rangers have received no wages recently and a lot of equipment was lost or broken during the flight. It is not certain when the rangers may return to the park, famous for its mountain gorillas.
Thousands of civilians have fled from the fighting in the DRC and the humanitarian crisis has worsened due to lack of food and clean water. A ceasefire between the DRC and the rebels, which was negotiated after the rebels took control of Goma, appeared to be in trouble today as skirmishes broke-out in the region.