Balemba BalagiziBriquette Program Manager
Ephrem BaloleHead of Technical & Scientific Dept.
I lead the Technical & Scientific Department of Virunga National Park. I am married to Esperance and have 3 sons and 2 daughters.
I have worked in Virunga National Park since 2001. Although I have been working in conservation for many years, I previously worked as a history teacher at the University in Bukavu. I now work with the Congolese Wildlife Authority ICCN in planning and implementing programs to bring the park back to its former glory. In my spare time I like to watch nature documentaries and play with my children.
Martin Kazerezi BarigomwaRanger
Andre BaumaGorilla Carer
I am a Ranger working in the southern sector of the park. I was born in 1972 and am married to Masika Rosette. We have a young son named Eric, and we are originally from Masisi, in North Kivu.I began my service as a Mountain Gorilla guide in the Mikeno sector but since June 2007 I have headed up the team of carers for the Gorilla Orphans, Ndeze, Ndakasi and Mapendo.
Jean-Bosco BichamakaraBriquette Training & Community Relations
I was born on 31 January 1964 in Rumangabo, home to Virunga National Park headquarters. I guess I was destined to become a Ranger. I am married to Sebulikoko Therese and we have 5 children. I hold the rank of Chief Sergeant and work in the same town where I was born. I live my life in service to my family and country, and wish that more people in the world lived this way.
Swen BuschProfessional Police Dog Trainer
Gilbert DilisSecurity Officer
I am in charge of security, training and monitoring missions of the guards on the field to defend the integrity of the park.
To defend the integrity of the park, it is important that our guards have proper training and a training subject to ongoing monitoring, not only to direct them on the ground but also to enable them to perform their tasks under the best conditions of safety and respect for human rights both domestically and internationally.
We train them to follow procedures well studied, effective and which are intended to facilitate information transfer between people of the land and the Provincial Directorate for the threats to the park are taken as soon as possible account and under control.
Jean Christophe GachumaRanger
I was a farmer: my most successful crop was sorghum. I decided to give up agriculture and work in conservation. I spent a year doing manual work in the park; spending my days at Rumangabo station watching the park rangers come and go on patrol. I became very interested in their work and one day I decided to make a change and train as a guard – that way I could make more of a difference.
Vianey HarakandiRanger & Tourist Reservations
Michel Matembela KaboliRanger
Richard Ndakasi KambaleGorilla Carer
Patrick KarabarangaGorilla Carer
Kasereka KavusaRanger, Southern Sector
Roy KiyomaDriver & Ranger, Southern Sector
Jean Paul LukusaLaboratory Manager
I am the regional laboratory manager for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.
I received my degree in microbiology from L’Institut Supérieur Médical in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I worked as a professor at a medical school in Rwanda before joining the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) - the Gorilla Doctors - in 2003. I live in Goma with my family, but commute regularly to MGVP’s main office in Rwanda.
My duties range from running fecal parasite checks and bacterial cultures on mountain gorilla samples to administering the MGVP employee health program in Rwanda. The latter job involves coordinating doctor visits and taking laboratory samples from hundreds of park rangers and guides each year. I am also engaged in teaching and public speaking within the local community, where I raise awareness about the need to protect our environment. I get enormous satisfaction when people realize that gorillas and the other animals of the park have a right to a peaceful existence, too.
Ndibwami MberaGorilla Carer
Innocent MburanumweWarden, Rumangabo Station
Yaya MburanumweRanger, Southern Sector
Emmanuel de MerodeChief Warden
I am the Chief Warden of Virunga National Park for the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN).
I grew up in eastern Africa, and was able to develop a deep affection for its mountains, its savannas, its wildlife and its people. I trained as an anthropologist, and came to Congo as a young researcher in 1993, working in Garamba National Park on the border with Sudan where I stayed for almost 7 years. Since then, I have dedicated my efforts to working with those involved in rebuilding Congo’s national parks. My work in Virunga began in 2001, at the height of the second Congolese civil war. The incredible dedication of Virunga’s rangers at a time when they were getting virtually no support shaped the future of my working life.
In 2005 I co-founded WildlifeDirect, a conservation group that supports wildlife rangers in remote and dangerous areas. The Congolese Government has now given me the opportunity to lead Virunga’s 680 Rangers. This team of rangers has a job: to protect the mountain gorillas through the armed conflict, and to rebuild Virunga into Africa’s greatest national park. We are absolutely committed to this job, but we cannot achieve it alone, and we need to build up our team.
The online team – that means you – plays a crucial role. This website is essential to conservation in Virunga and our success in protecting the park. This website is an opportunity for us to show the world what is happening in the park, what we are doing to safeguard the park, and how we can all work together.
Virunga was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1979. It is our duty to protect the mountain gorillas and all the other flora and fauna in the park. We owe it to our children and our grandchildren.
Rodrigue MugarukaWarden for Rwindi (Central) Sector
Robert MukunaFinancial Administrator, ACF
I have been the financial administrator for the Africa Conservation Fund since September 2007.
I have set myself the goal to contribute in whatever way I can to the revival of Virunga National Park. This is not only in the interest of my country, but the world.
I am involved to making sure the limited resources we have available are maximized towards palpable progress in the rehabilitation of the park. I must admit that this is a difficult task, especially in light of the political situation our country is now facing. We place our hopes in the international community to help us in our search for peace and development, which would solve many of the problems facing the wildlife of Virunga.
I am married to Alphonsine and we both live and work in Goma.
Norbert MushenziDeputy Chief Warden
I have been working in Virunga National Park since 1971 and I am currently Deputy Chief Warden based in Rumangabo.
I fell in love with the park during a school trip in 1969. After finishing my studies in wildlife conservation in Cameroon, I began working for ICCN in Virunga as a research assistant. After a year I moved to Kahuzi-Biega National Park where I worked with Adrian Deschryver on habituating the lowland gorillas there. A stint at Garamba National Park and the Okapi Faunal Reserve followed. I then came back to Virunga and have stayed here ever since. I have been Chief Warden in the past, but am now happy to be working for my friend Emmanuel de Merode who is now running the show.Conservation is a tricky business, with moments of satisfaction as well as frustration. I remember the early days when we were trying to habituate the Mushamuka group of 23 gorillas. The first time the silverback attacked me and ripped my shirt, the second time he pulled me by the leg, and the third time he pushed me over. But in the end we were able to gain his trust, thanks largely to the pygmy trackers we employed.I will also never forget when we had to evacuate the hundreds of thousands of Rwandan genocide refugees who had overrun the park in 1995.I am preoccupied by the future of Virunga National Park, as it continues to pay the heavy price of the consecutive wars of 1994, 1996, 1998, and the current conflict. The almost constant presence of armed groups in the park is unacceptable. We need lobbying to take place at the highest international level to remove these armed groups and the political will of our government to better support the Congolese Wildlife Authority. I dream of a preserved park in its former glory, repopulated with diverse wildlife and benefiting the local population.
Baabo NdarimazeGorilla Carer
Jean Claude Mwendo NdegeRanger
Biriko NgunzaRadio Controller
I am based at the Rumangabo Station and am in charge of radio communications. My father was also a Ranger.
Strong communications between the different parts of the park is critical to our work. I am in charge of the radio hub at Rumangabo Station and I am proud to be a part of this team.
In 1998, I was a gorilla guide in the Mikeno sector. My job was to follow the daily movements of gorilla families so that we could bring tourists to see them. We also monitored their health and behavior.
Even this was sometimes a dangerous activity. One day, while we were following a gorilla group near Bikenge, we ran into a group of FDLR rebels. We exchanged gunfire over the course of several hours and were slowly pushed further and further away from our patrol post. By the end of the battle, we found ourselves 26 kilometers from our post. Tired and afraid of bumping into more rebels, we decided to spend the night in the forest. From this story alone, you can see that our mission is not an easy one, but I promised my kids that I would do my best to protect Virunga National Park and that is exactly what I will do.
Joel NgyokuField Nurse
Bismarck OkundjiAssistant Administratif et Financier
Sara PietLogistics Coordinator, Kenya
I am in charge of the Nairobi based logistics for Virunga National Park. Many of the supplies such as uniforms, vehicles and other items have to route through Nairobi to Virunga and require follow up at this end.
I was raised in Kenya’s Rift Valley on the shores of Lake Naivasha and sent off to England for my schooling and university education. I was awarded a Diploma from The Mohammed Amin Foundation School for Journalism, covering photo journalism, directing, editing and producing.
My work has been varied since then, working with film crews and coodinating logistics for all sorts of people including the BBC, NBC, Turner Productions, National Geographic, Discovery, Imax, and not to forget my stint on Oserian flower farm, which is one of the largest privately-owned flower farms in the world. This farm is part of the Fare-trade Group, have their own Geo thermal plant, which now generates all the electricity for the farm, and is renowned for being one of the most environmental flower farms in Africa.
I have also worked in Europe and the Middle East but I am now back home, married to Maarten and settled in Kenya.
I am passionate about Wildlife, photography, deep sea fishing (Tag & release of course!) and I collect feathers and rocks on my travels.
Chocolate is my downfall.
My name is Albert Sebagabo and I work at Rumangabo station. I was born in Rugari in 1964. I am married to Severine Nyiramahane and we have nine children: five boys and four girls. My father was Station Chief at Jomba Patrol Post. I used to follow his every move; he was always telling me how great the park was.
Christian ShamavuLeader of the Anti-Poaching Bloodhound Dog Unit
My father used to work at a plantation near Kahuzi Biega National Park in South Kivu. He took me to the park station in Chevanga where I got to see Maheshe the most well-known silverback Kahuzi Biega Park. In 2003 I learned about the tragic death of Maheshe, killed by people connected with some nearby plantations and influential businessmen. I was so upset and wanted to be a ranger so that I could protect gorillas. Unfortunately I never got the chance until I came to Virunga in 2003, applied, and finally became a ranger.I’m so proud to be someone protecting animals and our beautiful environment.
Kabarati SifaDeputy Office Manager
I am the deputy manager for the Park Headquarters and have been working here for 4 years.
I was first brought to work at the Park because of my interest in developing tourism in the area. Congo used to have a thriving tourism industry, but it was destroyed by war and political instability.
I am a big advocate for the protection of wildlife, but it is very difficult to spread the message of conservation in a country where most people are so poor. I still think there is a lot of work to be done and we should all work hand in hand to save Virunga National Park for future generations.
I am married to Patrick and have 5 children.
Philippa TerblancheArt Director/Designer
Bertin TumonakieseAssistant de Direction
Je m'occupe de l'administration de la direction provinciale de l'ICCN, je supervise le servise d'intendant au niveau de la direction dans l'aceuille des differents visiteurs et le bureau du Centre de contrôle des opérations du Parc National des Virunga, je m'interresse aussi à la cultures des élèves des écoles environnant le Parc.
De Août 2006 à Août 2008: Conservateur Assistant et Chargé de la Conservation Communautaire au Parc National des Virunga secteur Nord. Là j’ai m’occupé de la sensibilisation des communautés locales( élèves, étudiants, associations écologistes, autorités locales, et les autochtones pygmés) à la protection de l’environnement et conservation de la Nature, j’ai travaillé avec l’appui du Partenaire WWF dans demarcation participatives des limites Parc-Chefferie pour attenuer les conflits liés à cette situation, j’ai m’occupé des quelques projets de developpement en faveur des communautés locales notamment dans l’ établissement des pépinières d’arbre pour le reboisement des layons des limites du Parc, dans l’éducation des enfants pygmés de Bahatsa, et le socio-culturel des pygmés. je m’occupé aussi des resolution des conflits ( homme-animal) dans la lutte contre la dépredation des cultures.