AWF Condemns Renewed Violence Against Park Rangers at Virunga National Park
KINSHASA, CONGO AND NAIROBI, KENYA — An attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo by unidentified gunmen has claimed the lives of six park rangers and wounded others at Virunga National Park. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) condemns the killing of wildlife rangers at Virunga and the growing trend of violent attacks there, which has been on the rise. Twelve rangers and five civilians were gunned down in a similar incident near the park in April 2020.
In December, the DRC imposed stricter coronavirus measures after cases began to increase. The government imposed new restrictions, including a curfew, a ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people, and a ban on ceremonies before burials. Travel bans, government lockdowns, and stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have impacted ranger operations at Virunga and other national parks across Africa.
AWF Chief Executive Officer Kaddu Sebunya reacted to events still unfolding today: “We believe the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is still increasing tensions in African communities near wild landscapes. People continue to go hungry and food security remains a problem. The situation is more heightened in eastern Congo, with several groups competing for natural resources on the borders of Virunga. Park rangers protecting wildlife have increasingly been targeted. They need our help. This attack and others underscore the need for additional emergency funding in national parks and other protected areas in Africa. We send our sincere condolences to the families of the bereaved.”
In 2020, increased illegal activity and violence threaten the lives of men and women working on the front lines to preserve endangered species and diverse ecosystems. Rangers in Africa face enormous risk to their personal safety in the midst of the ongoing global pandemic. AWF has been raising awareness about the declining support for Africa’s protected areas during the global pandemic. On July 31, 2020, AWF experts honored rangers and community wildlife scouts from Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, who joined a World Ranger Day virtual event to provide first-hand testimony about the growing challenges and risks of protecting Africa’s wildlife during COVID-19.
About African Wildlife Foundation
The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wildlands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science, and public policy, and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wildlands.
MEDIA CONTACT: For more information on AWF’s response to the attack on park rangers in Virunga National Park, DRC, contact Nashipae Orumoy of AWF in Nairobi, Kenya at NOrumoy@awf.org or +254 701864021 or Patrick Mitchell of AWF in Washington, D.C. at PMitchell@awf.org or (202) 991-7508.