Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

2017
07.31.2018
Rangers Project
On #WorldRangerDay, we are so proud of the efforts of our rangers, who show dedication and resilience, despite the dangers they face.

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07.22.2018
Ephrem Balole, Manager of Virunga SARL, receives his PhD
Congratulations to Ephrem Balole, Manager of Virunga SARL, who received his PhD from the University of Kinshasa last week! Ephrem has been r...

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06.06.2018
Rangers Project
We are so proud that Jolie, one of Virunga’s female rangers, shared her story of what motivated her to become a ranger at the European Devel...

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06.05.2018
Fallen Rangers Project
Representatives from the Rumangabo Widows sewing workshop attended the European Development Days conference in Brussels, where they showcase...

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05.31.2018
Virunga coffee launches!
One for the coffee fans out there: every purchase of Higher Grounds' Kawa Kanzururu Coffee goes towards supporting the development work of V...

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05.31.2018
Rangers Project
We are so delighted to share the news that the mountain gorilla population has surpassed 1000! Incredible news for Virunga and incredible news for conservation, and testament to the continued work of Virunga's Rangers in ensuring the protection of the species.

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02.13.2018
Fallen Rangers Fund
Children of the fallen Rangers playing in the child care center at the widows workshop! On-site child care reduces the initial stressors tha...

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12.05.2017
Fallen Rangers Fund
A total of 68 widows and 190 children of fallen Rangers, are now, thanks to the Fallen Rangers Fund, being offered financial support, education, and meaningful employment.

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09.11.2017
Rangers Project
Today, Park Rangers along with the Gorilla Doctors team successfully located the Rugendo group and removed a deadly snare from the arm of yo...

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07.30.2017
Rangers Project
Happy World Ranger Day! We are extremely proud and grateful to all our Rangers. These men and women are deeply committed to Virunga and ensu...

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07.29.2017
Rangers Project
Last week marked the completion of 5 months of incredibly tough training for Virunga's newest Rangers. 6500 applied, 81 made it through.

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01.12.2017
Fallen Rangers Fund
A beautiful selection of napkins made by the widows of fallen Rangers are on sale at Mikeno Lodge.

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Photo Credit: Brent Stirton; Logo Credit: David Shepard

Photo Credit: Adam Kiefer; Logo Credit: David Shepard

Photo credit: Brent Stirton; Logo credit: David Shepard

Photo credit: Brent Stirton; Logo credit: David Shepard

Photo credit: Orlando von Einsiedel

Photo credit: Brent Stirton; Logo credit: David Shepard

Explore Africa’s oldest and most biologically diverse protected area

Unlike anywhere else in the world, Virunga National Park contains some of the greatest national treasures on earth

About Virunga

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Stability through sustainable development in the eastern Congo

The Virunga Alliance is working to create an alternative economy that enables surrounding communities to benefit from the National Park

Virunga Alliance

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Meet the heroes who risk their lives to protect the Park’s wildlife and local communities

Rangers’ work is critical to the stability of the Park and the safety of the lives that surround it

Rangers Project

Learn more

Meet the orphan gorillas of Virunga’s Senkwekwe Center

The world’s only sanctuary caring for mountain gorillas separated from their families by poaching or conflict

Gorilla Orphan Project

Learn more

Rangers Project

About The Virunga Rangers

Virunga's Rangers stand fearlessly on the frontline of conservation for the protection of the Park's wildlife, natural resources, and for the surrounding communities. They routinely face harsh physical conditions, injury, or even death. In the past decade over 175 Rangers have been killed in the line of duty. Without the commitment of these brave men and women, Virunga would not exist.

Park Protection

Virunga currently has over 600 male and female Rangers actively serving to protect the Park and the communities surrounding it’s borders.


These Rangers go through intense selection processes and extensive training to work for the Park. They are all selected from local Congolese towns and villages and qualify to become civil servants within the Congolese National Park Authority (ICCN).

The Rangers serve in the Park’s three sectors (north, central and south), often in extremely difficult circumstances. Virunga’s Rangers face threats from many fronts and risk their lives daily. Over 175 Rangers have been killed whilst serving the Park.

Photo credit: Virunga National Park

Christian is head of the Virunga National Park Canine Unit, which helps to track poachers and contraband such as weapons.

Christian is head of the Virunga National Park Canine Unit, which helps to track poachers and contraband such as weapons.

As a ranger my job is to protect Virunga National Park, not only for the people of Congo, but for the entire world.

Ranger Christian Shamavu
Head of Congohounds Unit

Photo credit: Adam Kiefer

Photo credit: Adam Kiefer

Photo credit: Adam Kiefer

Photo credit: Adam Kiefer

Photo credit: Adam Kiefer

Photo credit: Adam Kiefer

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Ranger Force Statistics

Rangers

601

Rangers have completed training and are employed by Virunga

Female Rangers

26

Female Rangers have completed training and are employed by Virunga

Fallen Rangers

175

Rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty since 1925

Aerial Patrols

3500

Hours of aerial surveillance conducted in the Park in 2016

Routine Patrols

6148

Routine patrols covered a surface of 3,478 square km in 2016

Ranger Training

Wildlife Protection

Elephant Protection

Canine Units

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Ranger Training

Each new Ranger recruit must undergo a rigorous six month training course taught by Special Forces trainers.


The Ranger training curriculum includes tactical combat skills, civil and criminal codes, humanitarian protection, and advanced first-aid.


Photo credit: Brent Stirton

Ranger Training

Typically, only 50% of Ranger candidates make it through to graduation--many of whom had already earned advanced degrees prior to joining the Ranger corps.


Thanks to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and other generous organizations around the world, Virunga’s Rangers are getting the training and support they need to continue to effectively secure the Park and it’s resources.


Photo credit: Brent Stirton

Gorilla and Wildlife Protection

One of the roles of Virunga's Rangers is to protect the Park's diverse wildlife, including its population of critically endangered mountain gorillas.


This includes locating and removing wildlife snares, which poachers set indiscriminately around the forest. These snares kill and maim a wide array of wildlife. Sadly, because of the sheer size of the Park, only a small percentage of these animals are fortunate enough to be rescued by Virunga’s Rangers.


Photo credit: Brent Stirton

Gorilla and Wildlife Protection

Virunga's population of mountain gorillas has been growing from strength to strength in recent years, thanks to the protection afforded by the Park's Rangers.


Our news page has regular updates on the Park's wild gorillas, click here to read more.


Photo Credit: Brent Stirton

Elephant Protection

Elephants are one of Virunga’s most sentient and gentle residents. Like elsewhere in Africa, the illegal ivory trade is exacting a heavy and brutal toll.


It is tragic when these magnificent creatures are killed by poachers. One of the only hopes to save Virunga’s elephants is to increase the number of highly trained Rangers in the Park and provide them with the tools they need to combat poaching.


Photo credit: Brent Stirton

Elephant Protection

Tracking collars are the best way to monitor and protect Virunga’s forest and savanna elephant over such a large land area.


Virunga National Park has teamed up with a number of organizations to improve its ability to protect elephant herds from poachers and prevent conflicts with the local population.


In 2015, world-renowned veterinarian Pete Morkel, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Frank Pope, and Jerenimo Lepirei of Save the Elephants, and Gorilla Doctors Mike Cranfield and Eddy Kambale flew to Lulimbi to begin the process of affixing high-tech tracking collars to Virunga’s elephants. These multifunction collars communicate via satellite to provide Rangers with real-time information about the movement of collared elephants, and often by extension, their entire herd.


Photo Credit: Brent Stirton

Canine Units

Virunga National Park’s Congohounds unit is comprised of Bloodhound “human-trailers” and Spaniel “sniffer” dogs.


The Bloodhounds are used primarily for tracking poachers, but also play a key role in finding injured Rangers.


They have even been used to help locate lost children in the communities that surround the Park.


Photo Credit: Brent Stirton

Canine Unit

Virunga’s team of Spaniels specialize in detecting non-human scents, such as smuggled ivory and bushmeat.


Most often they search for contraband hidden in vehicles or being sold in local markets, however, they can be used to sniff out contraband almost anywhere their skilled Ranger handlers direct them.


Photo credit: Virunga National Park

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Applying Technology

Having a technological edge over militias and poachers is critical for the protection of Virunga’s two-million acres.


Virunga National Park is constantly leveraging advancements in geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite communications to protect the Park.

These technologies play a key role in verifying and defending Park boundaries from encroachment. They are also used to develop three-dimensional threat maps that plot wildlife movement, known militia and poacher camps, and available Ranger patrols. This technology enables Rangers to focus their efforts where needed most and in the safest manner possible.

Photo Credit: Brent Stirton

Photo Credit: Brent Stirton

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Funded by

Howard G. Buffett Foundation


A private family foundation working to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world's most impoverished and marginalized populations.


http://www.thehowardgbuffettfoundation.org

Join the Effort to Protect Virunga National Park

You can make a difference by joining our community of dedicated individuals who aim to protect Africa’s oldest national park and bring peace and prosperity for the four million people who depend on it.