On January 10, at approximately 7:30 a.m. local time, the Rangers were ambushed while on foot patrol in the park. The attack took place near Kabuendo, which is near the border of the park in the central sector between Nyamilima and Niamitwitwi. Preliminary investigations show that the Rangers were surprised and had no opportunity to defend themselves and that those responsible for the attack are local Mai-Mai groups.
Another ranger was seriously injured in the attack, he was evacuated to a hospital in Goma and his injuries are no longer considered life-threatening.
A statement by Parc National Des Virunga said: “Preliminary investigations have shown that those responsible for the attack are local May-May groups,” the statement said. “Mai-Mai” refers to local militia groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that have long been active in the region.
According to media reports, more than 200 rangers have been killed in the park in the past ten years. Last April, 12 rangers were killed in the worst attack ever.
Mountain Gorilla, Copyright Kiganda Ssonko, from the Surfbirds Galleries
“The rangers of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation are agents of the Congolese state. They do not have military status and their actions are not covered by conflict law. Every effort is being made to bring the perpetrators to justice and uphold the rule of law in the park, ”the park said.
The 7,800 square kilometer Virunga National Park extends from the Virunga Mountains in the south to the Rwenzori Mountains in the north. It borders the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, as well as the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
It was founded in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
“Virunga National Park continues to work to develop development initiatives that benefit the local population and the entire region, and in partnership with local communities to create peace and prosperity for many millions of people whose lives are too long from conflict and activity was plagued by armed groups. “