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

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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

August 14, 2018
Our Stories

The Valiant Effort to Save Silverback Noël of the Rugendo Group

Silverback Noël was barely able to walk when the Gorilla Doctors first arrived…

Noël as a Blackback in August 2016
Photo credit: Gorilla Doctors

During a visit to the Rugendo family of mountain gorillas on November 14th, rangers noticed that silverback Noël had become alarmingly lethargic. For those of you who have never visited the Rugendo group, Noël is well-known for being exceptionally playful and sweet tempered. According to the gorilla trackers, Noël had fallen from a tree a few days prior, which led rangers to suspect he’d suffered a sprained ankle and torn ligaments. Erring on the side of caution, rangers summoned the Gorilla Doctors to assess the situation. The silverback couldn’t be located the following day, but on the 16th, Gorilla Doctors Mike Cranfield, Eddy Syaluha, Martin Kabuyaya and Senkwekwe Center’s Andre Bauma found him. Noël was clearly in pain and moving slowly.


As a first step, Noël was darted with ketoprofen to relieve his pain and reduce inflammation. When the Gorilla Doctors located Noël the next day, he was in a dramatic state of decline. Noël hadn’t even left his nest from the previous night. The silverback was virtually unable to move and close to death. Noël was immediately anesthetized and a full examination was performed. Just a few minutes into the exam, the Gorilla Doctors discovered signs of rampant infection in Noël’s leg. Fearing that bacteria from the infection was causing septicemia, the doctors administered intravenous antibiotics and pushed IV fluids to rehydrate Noël. Meanwhile, Senkwekwe Center gorilla caregiver, Babo Ntakarimaze, made his way up to the gorilla sector to provide around the clock care for the silverback.


For the better part of a week, Babo gathered forest food for Noël, squirted liter upon liter of water into his mouth, and fanned away flies. During the cold nights, he kept Noël covered with blankets, and during the many rainstorms, protected him from the rain. This period was punctuated with hope and despair. At times, it seemed as though Noël was gaining his strength back, but 6-8 hours later, he was back to looking moribund. This pattern continued for several days, during which time the Gorilla Doctors continued to treat Noël with antibiotics, IV fluids, pain medications, and drugs to treat his hyperkalemia (dangerously high potassium levels), caused by the infection.


On the 25th, Noël had a seizure and hope began to fade quickly. Noël’s blood work showed severely diminished kidney function and he began exhibiting signs of pneumonia. The 26th was marked by a continued decline in Noël’s health and he was barely conscious. Sadly, despite everyone’s best efforts, Noël passed away at 10:30 pm on Monday, November 27th.


Noël was a wonderful gorilla and he will be missed by all. Heartfelt thanks to everyone that did their best to save him.

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.

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