Image Source: BBC: In Pictures, Gorilla Guardians
“Our job can be very dangerous, but if we were not here we are afraid no one would protect these rare animals,” says Mr Kambale, one of the Virunga National Park rangers
In their ‘In Pictures’ series, the BBC is running a series of photos of the ‘Gorilla guardians’. These are the Virunga National Park rangers, part of the 1,100 strong group members who work to protect the Gorillas and the other animals in the Eastern part of the DR of Congo. I call these guys the real heroes because they work under difficult and dangerous circumstances, with small and often irregular wages.
How dangerous? Since the war in the region started in 1996, 120 rangers have been killed in the line of duty by the rebels, poachers and some of the disgruntled locals! As recently as the beginning of June, 200 Mai Mai rebels attacked and killed a ranger, seriously injuring a further four when the attacked three patrol posts in Virunga National Park. In addition to this, they then made threats to kill all gorillas if the rangers attempted to retaliate. These are the kinds of thugs the rangers are trying to protect the animals from.
This is such a shame partly because the animals are a natural resource than can be enjoyed by local and foreign tourists and bring in money to the region….
I haven’t talked much about how the crimes against humanity the rebels are committing by looting, kidnapping, raping, torturing and murdering the local populations who are poor, vulnerable, defenseless and completely forgotten by the rest of the world. I plan to do some posts on this shortly…