Bukima, Virunga National Park, Eastern Congo, July 2007.
Conservation Rangers from an Anti-Poaching unit work with locals to evacuate the bodies of four Mountain Gorillas killed in mysterious circumstances in the park, Virunga National Park, Eastern Congo, 24 July 2007.
A Silver-Back Alpha male, the leader of the group was shot, three females were also killed. Two of the females had babies and the other was pregnant. The two babies were not found and it is thought that they will have died of stress and dehydration. The motivation for the killing is not known but it is suspected that there are political motivations. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and embattled Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills.
Over 100 Rangers have been killed in the last ten years as part of their courageous efforts to protect the Gorillas of Virunga, one of the world’s most endangered species. The Congolese Rangers in this particular group are working with Wildlife Direct, a Conservation organization.
The Rangers receive a salary based on donations to Wildlife Direct and perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the world of wildlife conservation. The DRC has the highest toll of human casualties of any country since the Second World War, a figure in the region of 4.6 million dead as a result of war and resultant displacement, disease, starvation and ongoing militia violence.