Attacks on park staff, rangers, and scouts are always deeply disturbing to me. These true friends of wildlife and champions of conservation are on the frontlines securing parks, guarding wildlife, and protecting people living around wildlife.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the African Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) brown bag meeting on the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) African Great Apes Program—you can see that we love acronyms in conservation—on AWF’s behalf.
Fifteen years ago, ranger-based monitoring (or RBM for short) was initiated as a tool in the conservation of mountain gorillas. Whether patrolling the park for law enforcement or tracking mountain gorillas for health assessments or to facilitate visits by tourists or researchers, data is being collected and recorded on data sheets. Every day. That's over 5,000 days of valuable data collected.
Three-year-old mountain gorilla Ngwino is dead. And contributing to her death was a rope snare set by a poacher to capture an antelope for wild meat. Sadly, she is the SECOND young mountain gorilla dead due to the actions of a human being in the Virunga Massif this year. With only approximately 780 mountain gorillas remaining, the loss of one mountain gorilla is a serious blow to this critically endangered species.
Yesterday, May 24, Virunga National Park sent a team of rangers back to Bukima in an attempt to reestablish the monitoring of habituated mountain gorillas that range in that area. The hope was to locate the gorillas after several weeks without contact. That last few weeks have been volatile, with rebel movements within the National Park and intense fighting raging between rebel militias and the Congolese army on the park's edge in Bikenge and Jomba. (IGCP stock photo from Bukima)