In Memoriam: Ranger Sebinyenzi Bavukirahe Yacinthe

Ranger Seb Portrait

It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of Ranger Sebinyenzi who died protecting Virunga on Friday, January 23rd. He was 40 years old and had been protecting Virunga for over 20 years. Sebinyenzi had a distinguished career and was highly respected by his fellow rangers. In addition to protecting Virunga’s endangered wildlife, Sebinyenzi was also charged with protecting Southern Sector Warden, Innocent Mburanumwe — a job reserved for the best of the ranger corps. Having seen many of his fellow rangers fall, Sebinyenzi fully understood the risks associated with protecting Africa’s oldest park, but it was a risk that he was willing to take. For him, protecting Virunga was more than a job, it was about protecting his national heritage.

Ranger Sebinyenzi leaves behind his wife, Jeaninne, and eight children, ages 2 to 16. If you would like to honor Ranger Sebinyenzi and the rangers who have fallen before him, please support the Fallen Rangers Fund. The fund helps support the orphans and widows of Virunga’s fallen rangers.

For the next week, all new donations will be channeled to the Fallen Rangers Fund.

(S’il vous plaît, cliquez ici pour la version Français)


  1. Gina January 26, 2016 Reply

    Rest in peace
    true hero.

  2. Jeremy January 26, 2016 Reply

    I’m very sad to hear this. Your Rangers are braver and more precious than any soldier.

    • Todd January 28, 2016 Reply

      Braver and more precious than any soldier Jeremy? Really? What he did was very honorable and admirable, but to say “braver and more precious than any soldier” is irresponsible and ridiculous. Most soldiers give their lives for men, women, and children who cannot defend themselves. Thousands are lost protecting others so they might have the freedom to live and speak freely in forums such as this. This man was a true hero doing his job protecting animals. That however does NOT place him above thousands others defending and dieing for innocent people. Please think before spouting such a reckless statement.

      • Susan January 29, 2016 Reply

        I’m not knocking soldiers but I disagree with your dissing him.
        He died protecting innocent animals from marauders. He was protecting them on their own soil from mercenaries.
        (It sounds much more noble than soldiers who are sent to fight on foreign soil for a cause that may or may not be just. )

      • Virunga January 30, 2016 Reply

        Yacinte was killed protecting two civilians who had been abducted by assailants and taken into Virunga. The victims were rescued by rangers and returned to their families. Unfortunately Yacinte suffered a gunshot wound in the chest during the operation and subsequently died.

        • Mark February 16, 2016 Reply


          I noticed that none of your rangers wear body armour… can’t imagine its particularly safe there patrolling around poachers and other crazy people, is this a question of resources or some other reasons? I would love the contribute money towards this if it helps save lives.

          • Todd February 16, 2016

            Good for you Mark. An excellent suggestion!

      • Heidi Marusa February 5, 2016 Reply

        Thank you for that explanation Virunga. All of the soldiers are amazing brave heros that wake up every morning to protect this precious site and all the beautiful nature within it. I’m truly in awe of what they are doing for us & future generations. Sending condolences to his wife and 8 children.

        Todd…others have their right to an opinion…perhaps Jeremy likes animals more than people. I don’t blame him. Humans pretty much suck. Regardless this soldier die for humans as well. So your comments ended up being just as “rexkless”

        • Author
          Robert Williams February 5, 2016 Reply

          Virunga National Park reserves the right to sensor comments that it deems mean-spirited, demeaning, or otherwise inappropriate. Please refrain from using disrespectful language and please be tolerant of those with differing opinions. Thank you.

        • Todd February 9, 2016 Reply

          Of course they do Heidi, and I have that right too. I’m sorry you feel humans suck. I wish you well nonetheless…..

  3. Ali Vazir January 26, 2016 Reply

    Extremely saddened to learn the loss of poor Congolese at the hands of brother Congolese. I hope the perpetrators are brought to justice and made a lesson for others to respect the law and especially human life of those dedicated for mother nature.
    Rest in peace Sebinyenzi.
    Would also appreciate if exact location of his murder notified, Nyiragongo / Bukima / Mikeno / Tchegera etc.

  4. Debbie January 26, 2016 Reply

    So sorry to hear another hero has fallen.

  5. Heather January 27, 2016 Reply

    Rest in peace, you were a true hero.

  6. Michael Adams January 27, 2016 Reply

    It is so difficult to cover the range of emotions I feel at this news – sorrow for Sebinyenzi’s family, admiration for the man. I was still working with ICRC in South Kivu, when hostilities broke out in 1998. To dispel anger, I call on this familiarity with the pitilessness of life in a region where violent conflict has become endemic, but I struggle with the use of ‘fallen’ and ‘died’ for his ‘murder’.

    Sebinyenzi’s and Virunga’s mission are proof that a courageous life is available to all of us – that it is, ultimately, a simple matter of choice and commitment. This is what I have just tried to explain to my 12 year old son – puzzled at my sudden turn of mood.

    • Ginny Davis January 27, 2016 Reply

      I agree with Michael. We need to call these heinous acts what they are–murder. Why is this allowed to continue? Blessings on Virunga and all its rangers and their families.

  7. Muktech January 27, 2016 Reply

    My country has become a battlefield; a place where murder has become the norm. We Congolese have become desensitized about all this. But this one should not leave us indifferent. I cannot explain RIP hero of the Virungas!

  8. james arnold January 27, 2016 Reply

    Thank you sir.

  9. JanJones January 27, 2016 Reply

    OH my goodness so sad.What a hero

  10. Rose January 27, 2016 Reply

    My deep respect and appreciation to this valiant man, and my condolences to his family. What a terrible loss! I feel gratitude to all who protect the Virungas. Your courage and dedication do not go unheeded.

  11. phil mcdaniel January 27, 2016 Reply

    So sorry to hear this extremely sad news. I feel terrible that Ranger Sebinyenzi has paid this price to protect the park , its wildlife and those who care for it. In war time we hear about heroes but Ranger Sebinyenzi is a true hero because he died while protecting the innocent (and those with no human voice) at great personal risk. His actions were not driven by green nor ego, a true hero. My thoughts and heart go out to his family and friends (and colleagues).

    • Gina P March 9, 2016 Reply

      Please note that though he protected those animals without a human voice on a daily basis, his murder happened while he was rescuing/protecting 2 humans who had been kidnapped and taken into the Virunga. The people were rescued but he suffered a gunshot wound during the incident.

  12. Kevin Bewick January 27, 2016 Reply

    Rest in Peace brother, thank you for your service and dedication. Kevin Bewick APU Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.

  13. Suely Epsztein Grynberg January 27, 2016 Reply

    So sorry to hear that.

  14. Wendel Krook January 27, 2016 Reply

    Rest in peace. You risked your life for an honourable cause. Let us not forget.

  15. Gail Giddings January 27, 2016 Reply

    My heart goes out to his family, that tragically has been left behind. The light that he and his fellow rangers bring to this world is in stark counterpoint to the darkness that they fight against. The rangers and their families will continue to be in my prayers.

  16. Nicole January 27, 2016 Reply

    I’m very sorry for all of this brave rangers who lost their life… My heart is with their families… It’s more than words can say, what all these rangers are doing to save this beautiful place in this world… I htto, that all of them, who are still alive, will have enough strenght and motivation to going on… God save all of them

  17. Michiel Rumpff January 27, 2016 Reply

    Very sad. How are I be able to transfer money to the fund? Please share the information!

    • Author
      Robert Williams January 27, 2016 Reply

      Hi Michiel, thank you for your help. Simply click on the DONATE button anywhere on the site. For the next week, all donations will go to the Fallen Rangers Fund.

      • Keyna February 2, 2016 Reply

        How do you restrict a gift to this man’s family???

  18. Riccardi January 27, 2016 Reply

    C’est une triste nouvelle. Nous compatissons de tout cœur à votre peine. Toutes nos pensées se tournent vers sa famille. Aussi nous saluons le courage des Rangers qui sont de véritables héros.

  19. Carlene Mease January 27, 2016 Reply

    There are too many Virunga heroes who have met this end, including Dian Fossey. My prayers for his family. So many things in this life I do not understand, one of which is why people who are contributing to animal kind and humanity, and do this knowing they are in harms way, not from those they are protecting, but by those who would do them harm, meet such an untimely and unnecessary end. My heart cries out at the injustice. God rest his beautiful soul. My life would have been greatly enhanced if I had made his acquaintance.

  20. Kim January 27, 2016 Reply

    My deepest sympathy to his family and follow rangers. The selfless work that do will never go unnoticed. They all have my deepest appreciation and respect.

  21. URBAIN BUTSITSI January 27, 2016 Reply

    Rest In Peace Dear! we worked together,braveman i’m proud of you!!

  22. Saunieindiego January 27, 2016 Reply

    A true hero for wildlife. I wish peace for his family. And for his eight children, i wish, a future without poaching.

  23. Melissa Lomax January 27, 2016 Reply

    This is so tragic – a man who would take such great risks and give his life to this beautiful park. My heart breaks for his family and many children and for all of the fallen rangers before him. I will gladly give to the fund and I sincerely hope that this will be the last dear life taken to protect this fragile place.

  24. Kathleen Klueh January 27, 2016 Reply

    Much sorrow for Ranger Sebinyeniz. He will be remembered. Deepest sympathy to his wife and children.

  25. Liz January 28, 2016 Reply

    This is sad. I have respect for thos men and women protecting areas so dangerous as this one. But im as o thankful to have men and women. Who are there and willing to. This shouldnt have happened and i will be sending prayers his familys way

  26. Lena January 28, 2016 Reply

    R.I.P !

  27. Elena Chiccoli January 28, 2016 Reply

    I am very sad about..

  28. Hildegard Geller January 28, 2016 Reply

    Thank you sir. I admire you and your people

  29. Lauren January 28, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for your service.

  30. edwin January 28, 2016 Reply

    Hero! RIP!

  31. Roderik January 28, 2016 Reply

    ooh what a lost, my deep respect for this hero, wish to thank him, also in the name of my child.
    Thank you for your service, wish al relatives and fam. strength
    Thank you Ranger!

  32. Vitza January 28, 2016 Reply

    My sincerest sympathies to Ranger Sebinyenzi ‘s family. Thank you , Ranger Sebinyenzi for your dedication. Your memory will forever live in our hearts. Thank you.

  33. Robbie Buchanan January 28, 2016 Reply

    Hello all.
    How terribly sad to lose such a wonderful man.
    My heartfelt condolences to his wife, children and co-workers.
    I am trying to spread the word here in Sydney, to help awareness of, not only the wonderful work you are doing, but the dangers you face on a daily basis.
    Kind regards, and much love to all,
    Robbie Buchanan

  34. Carla January 28, 2016 Reply

    Rest in peace, thank you for your dedication and love. My heartfelt condolences to your wife and children, I imagine nothing will ever fill the void but may they find solace and strength in the memories you all shared. You are a hero in a world where heroes are scarcely found.

    Enter all thanks for your sacrifice, I hope it makes a difference to this world and may more humans like you be born.

    My Love goes out to all those affected by this tragedy.

    Carla – England, UK.

  35. Jeannie January 28, 2016 Reply

    Praying for the safety of all the rangers in Virunga. Rest peacefully, sir.

  36. Afsaneh Rahmani January 28, 2016 Reply

    In a world with no shortage of people willing to trample the rights of animals for their own benefit, it’s rare to find people like Ranger Sebinyenzi so willing, to put the welfare of animals above all else. He did just that: He spoke up for the lives of those who can’t speak.Rest in peace.You will be missed and remain in our hearts…My deepest sympathy to his family and friends all over the world.

  37. Robert Casamento January 28, 2016 Reply


  38. Carey Ostrer January 28, 2016 Reply

    Oh NO NO NO ! this is shocking and terrible. He has been murdered? Who by? I am so very sorry. My heart felt condolences to his grieving family – what a loss. I dont have much but will donate for their benefit. This is really ugly, just when I was thinking that it was reasonably safe now….

  39. Debbie January 28, 2016 Reply

    The rangers are especially heroic because many people in the world have made the decision to kill or use innocent, feeling, thinking animals. There are still relatively few who are dedicated to protecting them, the most abused, oppressed creatures on the planet. We owe you a huge debt of gratitude for lighting the way to moral progress.

  40. JULIA January 28, 2016 Reply

    This is so sad. My condolences to you family and loved ones. Thank you for your work of love. You are a hero. Rest in peace.

  41. Leslie January 28, 2016 Reply

    Tienes que tener mucho valor para hacer lo que hacías, la verdad que me impresiona mucho los riesgos que as tomado!, as ido un erhue, que descanses en paz

  42. Gianfranco Fronzi January 28, 2016 Reply

    Thank you Sir .

  43. Jerem January 29, 2016 Reply

    RIP for a Great Man.

  44. Michael Adams January 30, 2016 Reply

    Thank you Virunga for more details. I had been going to ask. Humane, courageous service – beyond what, I imagine – could be asked.

  45. Teresa Kelly January 31, 2016 Reply

    We all owe a great debt to Rangers, selfless men and women who pay the ultimate price in the fight to save the endangered wildlife on this planet..RIP..

  46. Elisa January 31, 2016 Reply

    This is too sad. Another tragic news I hear within a week concerning a young person who has dedicated her/his life in helping animals. The other one if Iranian (!) animal advocate who died in a car-crash. This seems so unfair. We need you!

  47. Siobhan January 31, 2016 Reply

    I’m so sorry – what a huge loss to the animal kingdom which you have tried to protect. Thank you for all you have done. Blessings.

  48. Rosie January 31, 2016 Reply

    My condolences to his family.. I thank him for his work in helping to save the animals of Virunga, and for ultimately losing his life while saving two kidnapped civilians, what a very brave man he was. RIP.

  49. Marlene woodbine January 31, 2016 Reply

    So sad my deepest condolences to your family,l sincerley hope they get the murderers who killed you . R.I.P

  50. Horacio a voloj January 31, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Sr for all your job and what you have done. God Bless you!

  51. NICOLA JAYNE January 31, 2016 Reply

    Absolutely Gutted for the loss of another beautiful soul….So sad for the pain and emptiness his family must now endure….

  52. Angelo February 1, 2016 Reply

    To all the rangers. Thank you for your noble efforts. Protecting the planet is what you are doing and it is very much appreciated. God Bless you all.

  53. Gertraud Fauner February 1, 2016 Reply

    A real hero lost his life – this is really sad

  54. John Sauers February 1, 2016 Reply

    My prayors go with you on your eternal journey home. Thank you for your dedicated service.We all love you.

  55. Paul February 9, 2016 Reply

    RIP Ranger

  56. Douglas unwin February 11, 2016 Reply

    Very sorry to hear of this sad loss of this fellow ranger ,how can I send some money to help his family out now.

  57. Mark Saar February 14, 2016 Reply

    Only recently I became aware of this Park thanks to the movie in netflix… like many other places in Africa its incredible story and dedication of people who are sometimes really the only ones standing between extinction of species and ecosystems. I read through your site and stories like these really struck the chord… Thank you for these silent heros and their dedication. Ranger Sebinyenzi is gone but never forgotten! Thank you sir! Kind Regards, Mark from Estonia.

  58. Isaac February 26, 2016 Reply

    So sorry. Doing a good thing for the park.\

    I am wishing strength and love to the wife and kid

    Thank you kind, kind Sir!


  59. Solon Lechonitis March 14, 2016 Reply

    I just read this terrible loss and the death of this hero Ranger.I send my deep condolences to his Family.I hope soon to contribute for the families left behind.RIP.Hero.

  60. ralph March 23, 2016 Reply

    Sorry about what hapend.

  61. Ivanova March 27, 2016 Reply

    Those mans that die for protecting park wish God bless them and all good staff on the Virunga park.Excuse me for my English.Admirers from Bulgaria im.Success!

  62. Pedro Bigeriego March 28, 2016 Reply

    I feel sad for the loss of this great man. God bless him!

  63. sarah bailey April 15, 2016 Reply

    MY heart aches for what life is like there for the gorillas and people. God bless you all for fighting for such a noble cause. May the darkness end one day and the light come in to your lives, by God you deserve some peace.

  64. hennie May 7, 2018 Reply

    I feel very sorry for the loss of such a great man and all of his co-workers and protectors, who defends God’s heritage with their lives. R.I.P. for these heroes.
    I curse those criminals who want to take profit of our animals for their own egoistic purposes. I hope they get instant karma.

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