Emmanuel de Merode launches $1 million fundraising campaign for Virunga

Dear Friends,

I am excited (if a little apprehensive) to announce that this year I will be running the Virgin Money London Marathon, undertaking the rather momentous challenge to run 26 miles (42 kilometres) through the British capital to raise funds for Virunga National Park. This decision has come as a surprise to family, friends, and colleagues alike!

It has also led to an extremely generous offer from Paul Leander-Engström, through his organisation The World We Want Foundation, to match every donation that is made towards my marathon appeal, up to $500,000. This presents us with a fantastic opportunity to raise $1 million for Virunga National Park.

It was just three years ago that I was left fighting for my life when I was ambushed and shot returning to the park headquarters. I was extremely lucky to have survived, and to be able to resume my work for Virunga within a matter of weeks. The incident could have ended very differently. In fact, over 150 of my colleagues have lost their lives protecting Virunga. This loss is something I carry with me every day, and I run this marathon in dedication to the memory of rangers and staff that are no longer with us.

Emmanuel-Orphan Gorillas

The funds being raised for the Virgin Money London Marathon will be put into an endowment fund being set up to secure the future of the rangers and their families for years to come. Fallen rangers leave behind families who relied on them as the main breadwinners, and an injured ranger poses a financial burden on a family. The fund will be used to not only pay for pensions for those widows and retired rangers, but also help pay for medical treatment for rangers injured in the line of duty.

The brave men and women who fight every day to protect the wildlife of Virunga National Park have driven me through the 5 AM runs, the night runs through the forest with only a head torch for light, and ensuring I commit the time needed to prepare adequately for this marathon.  

There has never been a better moment to donate to Virunga. Every donation made will be doubled – so every dollar you give is 2 dollars to the park – and this money will continue to support Virunga, making a definite and lasting impact for decades to come.

My sincere thanks,

Emmanuel de Merode

If you are a US taxpayer you can make a tax deductible donation directly through Virunga’s website.

For all other countries, please donate via Virgin Money Giving fundraising page. If you are a UK taxpayer, you can also maximize your donation using Gift Aid (25p will be given to every £1 you give).



  1. Julie Burges March 15, 2017 Reply

    Just donated straight the Virunga site since I’m a US donor. From a runner, an animal lover, and gorilla advocate – run hard in your marathon. Even better yet, keep up the fight – the good always prevail.

    • Rick LoBello March 15, 2017 Reply

      I want to get more involved in helping to raise funds. Who can I contact with questions I have

  2. CWG March 16, 2017 Reply

    Emmanuel de Merode – yourself and your staff do such wonderful work – I will be donating as much as I can. Thank you for everything you do.

  3. Viviane Bernarecki March 17, 2017 Reply

    Emmanuel Merode, thank you and your team for everything you do, you are in my prayers, God bless you.

  4. Linda Thurston March 18, 2017 Reply

    Thank you for the work that you do! I just donated.

  5. Dee April 4, 2017 Reply

    I have tried to donate via virgin money giving site about 4 times and it won’t let me – it says there is a problem. I’ve managed to successfully donate to a friend who is also running using the same method. I think there’s an issue with your page and you should contact Virgin.

    • Author
      Emma Norton April 5, 2017 Reply

      Hi Dee, we’re sorry that there’s been a problem with the Virgin Money Giving Site, we will flag this with the team. Donations can also be made at virunga.org/donate and will count towards the marathon fundraising. Thank you for your support.

  6. Sevi April 5, 2017 Reply

    Would love to donate but I am experiencing a similar issue as Dee. The site wouldn’t even open for me (I am in Canada). Please let me know, hope to proceed. Thanks!

    • Author
      Emma Norton April 5, 2017 Reply

      Hi Sevi, thanks for your support and sorry that you have encountered problems with the Virgin Money Giving Site, you can also donate on our own website, at virunga.org/donate – all donations will count towards the marathon fundraising and will be matched.

  7. beringei April 22, 2017 Reply

    Virgin money website functioning this morning. Issue is probably due to high traffic, but you can donate any time during the next week

  8. Shannon Witz April 22, 2017 Reply

    Thank you, Emmanuel for all the work and scarifies that you, your team and your families have made to save this park. I’m so inspired by your efforts and have just donated. Know that you have a huge cheering section in Chicago rooting for you!!

  9. merci EMMANUEL DE MERODE pour tout les efforts pour que le parc de Virunga occupe sa place sur l’échiquier mondial.

  10. Uganda Safaris May 5, 2017 Reply

    Great fundraiser it is! This will indeed help Virunga National Park with it’s mountain gorillas.

  11. stephen May 8, 2017 Reply

    Can’t wait to visit the park in December. I feel like i’m making a contribution. Thanks to all of you for making a difference.

  12. Great fundraiser it is! It will really help in conserving these mountain gorillas that are ever under the radar or poachers.

  13. Rwanda Adventures June 2, 2017 Reply

    How do i donate and be part of this?

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