Less than a week after 3 wildlife rangers and 5 soldiers were killed in Virunga National Park by the rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), another ranger has been killed and a driver put in the hospital in critical condition. The situation has pushed park authorities to request UN peacekeepers for the park.
FDLR ambushed a civilian protection unit, killing ranger, Muhindo Mburungani, with two bullets in the chest. Bullets also struck a driver in the head, stomach, and arm; he is currently in critical condition.
“We believe there may be a massive influx of about 700 FDLR militias in the area. We are holding crisis meeting with the senior military command this morning. We have been appealing to the UN peace keeping force, MONUSCO, for support,” writes park director Emmanuel de Merode on the park’s blog.
Located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Virunga National Park is home to a quarter of the world’s mountain gorillas, as well as chimpanzees, hippos, lions, forest elephants, and rare birds. The park is one of Africa’s most biodiverse parks and is classified by the UN as a World Heritage Site. However the park is also 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.
Eight rangers, soldiers killed in Virunga National Park
(01/25/2011) 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.
UN and conservation organizations condemn big oil’s plan to drill in Virunga National Park
(01/20/2011) WWF, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the UN have all recently expressed concerns about two oil companies’ plan to explore for oil in Africa’s oldest and famed Virunga National Park. Home to a quarter of the world’s mountain gorillas, as well as chimpanzees, hippos, lions, forest elephants, and rare birds Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of Africa’s most biodiverse parks and is classified by the UN as a World Heritage Site. But according to WWF plans by oil companies SOCO International and Dominion Petroleum could jeopardize not only the wildlife and ecosystems, but also local people.
Mountain gorilla population in DR Congo increases 12.5%
(01/27/2009) The population of critically endangered mountain gorillas in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park increased 12.5 percent in the past 16 months according to a census conducted by the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN). 81 gorillas now live permanently in the park, up from 72 in August 2007.