It is with immense sadness that Virunga National Park confirms the deaths of 6 Park Rangers in an attack by armed assailants on the morning of Sunday 10th January 2021. 1 other Ranger was seriously wounded in the assault. The Ranger has been evacuated to hospital in Goma and his injuries are no longer considered life-threatening.
At approximately 07.30am local time, the Rangers were ambushed while on foot patrol inside the Park. The attack took place near Kabuendo, which is located near the border of the Park, in the Central sector, between Nyamilima and Niamitwitwi. Preliminary investigations indicate that the Rangers were taken by surprise and had no opportunity to defend themselves, and that those responsible for the attack are local Mai-Mai groups.
The identities of the Rangers who lost their lives are:
BURHANI ABDOU Surumwe, aged 30 years
KAMATE MUNDUNAENDA Alexis, aged 25 years
MANENO KATAGHALIRWA Reagan, aged 27 years
KIBANJA BASHEKERE Eric, aged 28 years
PALUKU BUDOYI Innocent, aged 28 years
NZABONIMPA NTAMAKIRIRO Prince, aged 27 years
Virunga National Park deeply regrets the tragic loss of life among its Rangers, who work tirelessly and with dedication to protect both the Park and the neighbouring communities from the tyranny of armed groups. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten nor be in vain.
The Rangers of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature are agents of the Congolese State. They do not have military status and their actions do not fall under the law of conflict. All efforts will be undertaken to bring the perpetrators to justice and sustain the rule of law within the Park.
Virunga National Park remains committed to delivering development initiatives that benefit local people and the wider region, and to working in partnership with local communities to bring peace and prosperity to many millions of people whose lives have for too long been blighted by conflict and the activities of armed groups.
The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Virunga National Park are with the families and friends of all the victims, as well as the injured Ranger.
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The Virunga National Park (Parc National des Virunga), in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, is 7,800-square-kilometres (3,000 sq mi) stretching from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
The park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979. In recent years poaching and the Congo Civil War have seriously damaged its wildlife population. The park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities, the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and its partner the Virunga Foundation.
The Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) is a Congolese governmental partner tasked with the protection and conservation of the Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biega National Park, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Members of the ICCN are charged with the overall protection of the parks and the endangered Mountain Gorilla.
Over 200 Rangers have lost their lives protecting the Park's wildlife & habitats.