Rangers return to Virunga and begin gorilla census
December 1, 2008
After fifteen months rangers have been allowed to return to Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A deal was worked out between insurgents and the government to allow rangers to return and begin overseeing the park’s operations and monitoring its wildlife once again. Virunga is famous as one of the world’s last stands for the mountain gorilla.
The first task for the returning rangers is to begin a month-long census of the mountain gorillas. Prior to their eviction from the park, the last census in August 2007 had counted 72 gorillas. According to the AFP, on Friday rangers discovered five female gorillas nursing infants: a symbolic sign of survival in a war-torn nation.
2009 has been designated the Year of the Gorilla by the United Nations.
The on-going civil unrest has made the rangers’ jobs not only difficult but deadly. In the last decade, 120 rangers have died due to the civil conflict. Virunga’s rangers often work with little or no wages to guard one of the mountain gorillas’ last many and many other natural treasures of Virunga Park, including the greatest diversity of vertebrate species in all of Africa.