These are the Virunga National Park Rangers, and they are seriously tough. Their job is to protect the rare mountain gorillas from poachers, while aiming to keep militia groups out of the park. Their task though is not so easy. The park stretches across 3000 square miles of dense forest, in one of the most volatile regions in Africa. Since 1994, over 140 rangers have been killed in action. Most recently in the summer of 2017. As we travelled for five hours into a distant corner of North Kivu province, we arrived at a remote outpost occupied by a couple of rangers. They hadn’t greeted tourists in four months. As we set from their outpost and towards the jungle, the skies exploded with rain and thunder. It was the dawn of the four-month rainy season, whose daily torrents destroy roads and paths, while sending locals running for shelter. Not the rangers though. Through torrential rain they continue with their charge, barely shivering despite being saturated to the skin. Their focus does not waver. Their eyes never sit still in the forest, and their unflinching fingers remain fast on the grip of their AK47s. One could look into their eyes and see that theirs is a hard and uncertain life. But that is not what struck me the most. It was instead their pride in their arduous toils, in the safe patches of forest they have managed to defend, and in the magnificent apes for which they would sacrifice their lives. These rangers are a poignant reminder that in the unlikeliest of places, there are good people dedicating their time on earth to conserving our precious wildlife for future generations. And to them, we are all indebted. .
#virunga #drcongo #northkivu #mountaingorillas
Virunga National Park