Loading

Virunga´s Rangers Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

This is Africa´s oldest and most biologically diverse protected area

Around one third of the world population of critically endangered mountain gorillas live in the lush volcanic forests of Virunga National Park.
The park´s 3000 square miles (7,800 square kilometers)is comprised of three sectors: northern, central, and southern - each with an unrivaled diversity of landscapes and ecosystems.
Virunga National Park was founded in 1925 as Parc Albert, and renamed in 1969 as Virunga National Park after the country´s independence from Belgium.

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 the more than 700 Park Rangers team. These local men and women go through intensive training, risking their lives in a daily basis to safeguard the park´s wildlife. Alongside this conservation work, the park is committed to support local communities.

Virunga has a vision for responsibly harnessing the Park´s natural resources to create new opportunities for the region, creating jobs and reducing poverty, through hydropower, sustainable agriculture and fisheries, and tourism. This innovative, community focused approach to conservation is working to reduce the pressure currently faced by the Park´s Rangers from armed groups, illegal poaching, and land encroachment.

In 2008, the Congolese National Parks Authority (Institut Congolaise pour la Conservation de la Nature ICCN), and the Virunga Foundation entered into a partnership to manage the Park. This would be the 'Virunga Alliance', an innovative development programme to address the root causes of poverty and conflict, with the aim of eradicating illegal and destructive resource extraction in the region.

Over the past 20 years, Virunga has seen many periods of conflict, often beginning in or around the park. Eastern Congo is one the most economically disadvantaged places on earth, and competition for the Park´s rich natural resources has always been fierce.

Virunga and it´s partners, are committed to integrating the highests standards of community-based natural resource management by soliciting and incorporating input from the communities living around the park. Virunga authorities create and support multiple community forums that regularly consult with the local population to determine conservation and investment priorities.

Rangers Project

Virunga´s Rangers stand fearlessly on the frontline of conservation for the protection of the Park´s wildlife, natural resources, and for the surrounding communities.
They routinely face harsh physical conditions, injury, or even death. Over 175 Rangers have been killed in the line of duty. Without the commitment of these brave men and women, Virunga would not exist.
These Rangers go through intense selection processes and extensive training to work for the Park. They are all selected from local Congolese towns and villages and qualify to become civil servants within the Congolese National Park Authority.
For the past years Global Witness has been driving a major international campaign to stop oil companies drilling in Virunga and the surrounding area. They’ve also been campaigning to ensure that UK listed Soco International’s activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo are properly investigated by the relevant authorities.

Furthermore, rebel groups fighting the Congolese government and each other have long been active within the park’s boundaries. According to the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA), the militia are connected to hunting for bushmeat, illegal fishing and logging, and poaching, especially of elephants, to fund their activities.

The complex historical context of the region leading to cultural conflicts, unrest stemming from Congo’s civil wars, among with poaching, logging, and extractive projects, have damaged the wildlife population and made the park vulnerable to attacks by militia groups. Rangers must protect this area against economic and political interests.

Credits:

1. Joseph King; Virunga chimps; November 1, 2014; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 2. Google maps. 3. Virunga National Park official logo. 4. Alex Proimos; T92A2657-2; January 8, 2018; (CC BY-NC 2.0). 5. Joseph King; Nyragongo as seen on clear day from Mikeno Lodge in Virunga National Park #DRC; February 27, 2014; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 6. Johannes Zielcke; On the slopes of Nyiragongo; March 25, 2019; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).