Mountain gorillas at the Virunga National Park, a site gravely impacted by war and armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, have bonded so well with their anti-poaching rangers that they are posing for selfies together.
Virunga National Park is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it has been gravely impacted by instability and violence in the country for the last two decades.
The park is protected by a dedicated team of about 600 rangers. “These local men and women go through intensive training, risking their lives on a daily basis to safeguard the park’s exceptional wildlife, including the last of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas,” says the park’s website.
Protecting wildlife is not an easy job in eastern Congo and more than 180 rangers were killed in clashes with local terrorists and smugglers in the last 20 years, according to The Guardian.
For security reasons, the park closed its gates to visitors until the end of the year. But the rangers of the Elite AntiPoaching Units are continuing to work with the Gorillas. The rangers shared a selfie with Gorillas on their Facebook page on April 18.
ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE…
The park was founded by Belgian colonial authorities in 1925 and covers more than 8,000 square miles, providing habitat for more than a thousand gorillas. It faces many security threats, including illegal charcoal production, smuggling, and poaching, as well as a local terrorist group called the Mai Mai, reported the Guardian.
In May last year, the Mai Mai attacked a vehicle carrying tourists and killed a ranger, wounded the driver, and abducted two British tourists.
Six rangers were killed in an ambush in April last year and the park has become one of the most dangerous conservation projects in the world.
Last year, the heroic rangers shared another selfie with Gorillas titled “Family Portrait.”
FAMILY PORTRAITPatrick Sadiki, Ndakasi & Matabishi. 🦍🦍😎
About 5 million people have died in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Rangers have a long road ahead of them in protecting the wildlife of the region.
“The safety of our visitors will always be our highest priority … It is abundantly clear that the Virunga is deeply affected by insecurity and that this will be the case for some time. For Virunga to be safely visited, much more robust measures are necessary than in the past,” said Emmanuel de Merode, the Belgian aristocrat who is the director of the park, according to The Guardian.
WORDS TO LIVE BY- SAGESSE INTEMPORELLEFrom a Virunga National Park ranger, translated from the French:"When one is…
Here’s a view of the beautiful Virunga.
View this post on Instagram
Charity 2/8 – @virunganationalpark is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Virunga is the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area and a national park embarking on an ambitious development programme known as the “Virunga Alliance”. Situated in a region which has been deeply impacted by the effects of war and armed conflict for over 20 years, Virunga is protected by a dedicated team of over 600 Rangers (more than 175 rangers have been killed defending the park and its animals over the past 20 years). These local men and women go through intensive training, risking their lives on a daily basis to safeguard the Park’s exceptional wildlife, including the last of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. Alongside this essential conservation work, the Park is committed to supporting local communities. Virunga has a vision for responsibly harnessing the Park’s natural resources to create new opportunities for the four million people that live within a day’s walk of its borders. Focusing on three key areas: hydropower, sustainable agriculture and fisheries, and tourism, Virunga National Park is working to economically transform the region – creating jobs and reducing poverty rates. This innovative, community focused approach to conservation is working to reduce the pressures currently faced by the Park’s Rangers from armed groups, illegal poaching, and land encroachment. #virunga #wildlife #eliottleon