Statement from Chief Warden de Merode regarding the recent events

20th April 2014


Emmanuel de MerodeOn 15th April, I was fired upon by 3 gunmen on the road from Goma returning back to Rumangabo. I am now recovering with my family.

Unfortunately the attack is not an uncommon incident for Virunga National Park. Our rangers are targeted frequently due to their difficult work in protecting the park and it’s many valuable resources. They continue to face such risks to restore peace and the rule of law to the area and the people in their care.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Congolese armed forces and members of the public who helped me at the scene of the attack to reach the hospital.

I would also like to thank the surgeons and medical staff from Heal Africa and the UN surgeons who operated on me at such short notice. These people collectively saved my life.

I have been made aware that a full investigation is now underway by the appropriate legal authorities and I have confidence in the process that’s been initiated by the Congolese authorities.

For my part I have no indication as to who may have engineered this attack and would respectfully ask that others refrain from speculation prior to the findings of the enquiry.

I hope to recover very soon I am looking forward to getting back to my work with renewed vigour.

I am deeply thankful for the outpouring of support I have received both from within Congo and internationally and I hope this can be extended to the overwhelming number of Congolese public servants and their families who suffer injuries or sometimes death in the line of duty.

Screen Shot 2012-04-14 at 1.13.36 PM

Emmanuel de Merode


Parc National des Virunga


For media requests please contact Joanna Natasegara +0044(0)7946582641


  1. Sheryl Bottner April 21, 2014 Reply

    So good to read your statement, Emmanuel. Take care of yourself and recover fully before returning to DRC.
    All the best to you and your family.

  2. Susan April 21, 2014 Reply

    So thankful to hear that you are making progress in your recovery. I am forever thankful for all that you and everyone does to protect Virunga. May you all stay safe from harm.

  3. Louise Lo Presti April 21, 2014 Reply

    Emmanuel, we are all so pleased that you are home recuperating with “your girls.” Love is the best medicine.

    We thank you for your extraordinary bravery and determination at Virunga in the face of perilous opposition. May your strength and commitment guide you through a full and safe recovery.

    With best wishes to you and your family.

  4. Lynda Corkum April 21, 2014 Reply

    So glad to hear that you’re on the road to recovery! We need more people with your courage and integrity in this world. Thank you and all of the other people who work to protect Virunga! Cheers from Canada.

  5. Christa Witvrouwen April 21, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so much for your courage to stand up for the voiceless and the defenseless. My deepest gratitude and utmost respect for what you are doing. Thank you so much.

  6. Abhi K April 21, 2014 Reply

    Get well soon, Mr. De Merode.

  7. Sue Raw April 21, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so, so much for your selflessness and dedication in the face of such danger. Get well soon.

  8. OMARIA KENNETH ANYANG April 21, 2014 Reply

    Get well very soon. Keep up the fighting spirit.

  9. Blair Frazer Smith April 21, 2014 Reply

    Great news you are recovering well! Now lets see if this incident does not help wake the world up to what is happening in Virunga and also catapult the movie to become a box office hit! Here’s to your health sir and to better stewardship of planet Earth!

  10. Brion April 21, 2014 Reply


    Oui, nous sommes contents de recevoir de vos nouvelles et de savoir que vous êtes déjà près de votre famille et enfants pour ses Fêtes Pascales, et déjà en convalescence !!

    Merci aux personnes qui vous ont transportés rapidement à l’hôpital , merci aux chirurgiens qui vous ont opérés et soignés !!
    Comme vous dites, vous récupérez, mais votre devoir vous appellera encore aux Virunga que vous défendez si bien, et avec Coeur !!
    Oui, par delà vous ce sont aussi des gardiens et leurs familles qui sont aussi parfois dans cette situation, et il faut à travers vous et votre situation actuelle, penser aussi à eux qui sont parfois attaqués ou risquent leurs vies pour protéger ce Parc, les animaux, la flore et les gens qui l’entourent, le développement de cette région au travers des effets bénéfiques de ce Parc !

    Bonne convalescence, auprès des vôtres !!!

  11. Kim Laker April 21, 2014 Reply

    It is good for many reasons that you released this statement. Firstly, thank god those guys were ‘bad shots’ and missed your vital organs! You and your staff deserve medals for the difficult and challenging work you carry out. Having been to the Virunga’s I have seen how volatile it is and I only hope that the whole region settles down so people can live in harmony and share such a remarkably beautiful Park with the world…….the potential is huge.

  12. AJ April 21, 2014 Reply

    Get well soon. And thank you for protecting the wildlife with your life. I think you are a hero.

  13. Luc Roymans April 21, 2014 Reply

    You are a true inspiration!

  14. Karen Cobb April 21, 2014 Reply

    So good to read but even better that you are with your family.
    You, the Rangers are HEROS in my eyes and without you the Gorilla’s wouldn’t stand a chance.
    Recover fully before you get back out there and lets hope now you will get the protection you deserve.

  15. Crystal April 21, 2014 Reply

    I wish you a speedy recovery, Emmanuel! Thanks for all you do, the world needs more people like you and your rangers.

  16. Catherine Chalmers April 21, 2014 Reply

    Someone recently is missing from there,
    We know who it is but we are unaware
    Of a date of return or a note from the thief,
    We just know that your needed, so absence be brief.

    From everyone that needs you at Virunga.

  17. Marcus Borelli April 21, 2014 Reply

    Wish you recover as soon as possible. I wish you a long and prosperous life.

    Marcus Borelli – Brazil

  18. Elliott Garber April 21, 2014 Reply

    Thankful that you are recovering well and have maintained such an inspiring perspective through this incident.

  19. Richard Hoyle April 21, 2014 Reply

    Emmanuel, you are a gentleman but you always were. Very glad to hear you are on the mend.
    Love Richy Hoyle

  20. Johann Leuckx April 21, 2014 Reply

    Dear Emmanuel,
    i wish you a quick and safe recovery from this awful and brutal event! Get well soon! I also wish you and your family a lot of courage in this difficult moment! You ‘re an example for us all.
    Your statement is just splendid; especially the highlighting of the rangers dangerous job. You’re, in a noble sense, a “primus inter pares” for them. Ushujaa! Heri zote! Bahati njema!

  21. Willie April 21, 2014 Reply

    Your work and passion are appreciated by many. Thank you so much! You know what helps the healing process? A James Bond Marathon!

    Take care and we wish to see you again soon!
    Willie Martinez
    Happy Hollow Zoo

  22. Jacqueline Gerber April 21, 2014 Reply

    Dear Emmanuel
    I’m so glad to hear your statement. Admirable your courage, my deepest respect for that are you doing.
    Get well soon and take care!

    Love from Switzerland

  23. susan rose April 21, 2014 Reply

    It is wonderful to hear you are now recovering at home with your family. Many thanks to all those involved with saving your life. Your renewed vigor to return to work is very inspirational.

  24. Anja Wanka April 21, 2014 Reply

    It’s so good to hear that you’re on the road to recovery! Please get well soon! I want to thank you and all the rangers in Virunga for your courage and determination. You risk your lives to protect and speak out for the defenceless and the voiceless on a daily basis, you are true heroes.

  25. Elizabeth Dietz April 21, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so much for all you do. Sending healing thoughts and strength your way….you inspire…

  26. Louisa Lockwood April 21, 2014 Reply

    Dear Emmanuel,
    What a great statement all round. We’re so thankful to everyone who could step in to help and hope that some good will come out of this terrible incident.
    Wishing you a full recovery. Lots of love to you and Louise, Louisa.

  27. Mary M. April 21, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for all you do & continuing to send healing prayers your way.

  28. richard April 21, 2014 Reply

    un prompt rétablissement, un retour rapide dans une des plus belles régions du monde. c’est cher payé pour faire connaitre au monde ce que vos hommes et vous même accomplissez, avec les plus hautes valeurs.,on va le faire savoir, avec toute la diplomatie requise.

  29. Susan Wanjiru Ndungu April 21, 2014 Reply

    I wish you a speedy recovery may God heal you and protect you

  30. Noelle April 21, 2014 Reply

    I am so happy to hear that you are getting better!!!!

  31. Lorraine April 21, 2014 Reply

    I am so happy to hear that you are recovering. Emmanuel you are an inspiration; your courage is truly amazing. Thank you for everything that you and your your team do at Virunga.

  32. Lori Sirianni April 21, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for your brave and noble work, Mr. de Merode. Wishing you a full recovery and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  33. Alejandra April 21, 2014 Reply

    Thank you Emmanuel, you are not alone. All the best wishes. You are the best. <3

  34. Susan Shawn April 21, 2014 Reply

    So glad to hear that you are recovering and are at home – I’ve been wondering, here in Oregon. I read about the attack and then watched your TED talk, and am in awe of your courage and your love for wildlife and your park. Perhaps with the eyes of the world upon your park the people responsible for this type of attack will have second thoughts, and peace will come. That is my prayer. Susan Shawn

  35. Jim Duke April 22, 2014 Reply

    Get well soon-many thanks for all you do. Take care, mate.

  36. marianne April 22, 2014 Reply

    I want to send our heart felt best wishes for your speedy recovery and to let you know that I respect so greatly what you do every day. I am house bound with Chronic pain illness and can only look on and cheer as you fight the biggest battle this planet has at this time. Be well
    Angel Hugs
    Marianne., Julan and Matt Cash
    at Vintage valley Wales x

  37. Vianney Harakandi April 22, 2014 Reply

    God is great,
    We wish you a full recovery.

  38. Eddy KAMBALE April 22, 2014 Reply

    Thanks a million for this release and have no word to express my joy hearing that you are having a successful healing process. Glory to God

  39. Marion April 22, 2014 Reply

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, Earth Angel. I pray you recover soon. Thank you for the wonderful work you do. Regards, Marion.

  40. Lemaire April 22, 2014 Reply

    So glad to hear you are recovering and thanks to all who took care of you. I wish you a full recovery and am happy to read that you will be back on duty with your remarkable team soon.

  41. Tiena de Beer April 22, 2014 Reply

    …sending you prayers for complete healing,.stength for your family,.and the resources for you to continue the grest work you are doing..

  42. GAMI NORBERT April 22, 2014 Reply

    Emmanuel, prends bien soins de toi, merci pour la leçon du courage qui réconforte tous les acteurs de terrain. Ma visite aux Virunga m’as permis de voir tes réalisations. Tu es parmi les rares dans le bassin du Congo qui développe et met en pratique une approche qui lie conservation et développement local. J’ai pu le vivre moi même sur le terrain en visitant en compagnie d’Ephrem vos œuvres communautaires dans le territoire de Rutshuru.
    Courage et nous sommes de tout cœur avec toi
    Norbert GAMI

    • GAMI NORBERT April 22, 2014 Reply

      La traduction n’est pas très bonne… Je veux dire qu’Emmanuel lie conservation et développement

  43. Jacques De Backer April 22, 2014 Reply

    Appreciate your courage to continue in this line of work!.

  44. Françoise Remory April 22, 2014 Reply

    Je suis très heureuse que vous vous sentez mieux. Je vous souhaite un prompt rétablissement et un retour rapide dans le Parc des Virunga. Merci de protéger cette si belle nature et d’aider ce merveilleux peuple du Congo. Bien cordialement.

  45. Dear Emmanuel,

    We wish you a better recovery. We are aware that so many people have lost their lives while defending the park from all kind of attacks. In this regards, we would request you to be more careful in taking care of yourself.

    Much courage,

    Elie Pierre

  46. Cindy Walker April 22, 2014 Reply

    Emmanuel, you are a testament of what a true Hero is. I cannot thank you enough for your steadfast dedication and bravery to protect Virunga & the magnificent wildlife that lives within it. I wish you a full & quick recovery. Thank you for your courage! Much Aloha!

  47. Kerstin Bucher April 22, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for being so courageous! You are truly an inspiration! Get well soon! Wildlife in Virunga urgently needs you!!!!!!!!!

  48. Oliver April 22, 2014 Reply

    Get well soon.

  49. Louise Lo Presti April 22, 2014 Reply

    Emmanuel, David Agenya and the Gorilla Trackers of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have asked me to “tell the Chief” that they salute you and your Virunga team for your collective heroism and deep commitment. The Trackers send their best wishes for your recovery, and their thanks to your family and those who rescued you.

  50. Jim A April 22, 2014 Reply

    So glad you are healing, thanks indeed to all the rangers and others working to improve things for Virunga and the Congo.

  51. David April 23, 2014 Reply

    Shared this story.

  52. Eileen Hennessy April 23, 2014 Reply

    Emmanuel, your selfless commitment to protecting endangered gorillas, even at the risk of your own life, is inspiring and these magnificent animals are fortunate to have a champion so dedicated to their preservation. I send you my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  53. Dave April 23, 2014 Reply

    I am relieved to read that you are recovering. Your dedication to the wildlife and landscapes of Congo is inspiring.

  54. Wolfgang April 24, 2014 Reply

    Merci mingi pour le combat et le service de vous tous en faveur d’un monde unique et uni. Longonia mpe losako. Bonne rehabilitation!

  55. Daryl Balfour April 25, 2014 Reply

    Having first visited Virunga NP in 1991 and spending time with the legendary Rugabo, I would like to offer my services as a long-time wildlife photographer & author to assist in any way with promoting conservation in the Virungas. Please contact me if you feel there is any way I can be of assistance!

  56. Amani safaris April 27, 2014 Reply

    we acknowledge the good work you do at the Virunga park – we wish you a quick recovery and hope the same will never happen again –

  57. Stefan Lovgren April 29, 2014 Reply

    So relieved to hear that you are recovering well. Your dedication, courage and hard work are a true inspiration. Thank you.

  58. Christine April 29, 2014 Reply

    Dear Emmanuel
    Bonne récupération à vous ! J’admire votre courage à vouloir sauver cette région que je connais si bien .
    Christine Marchal Rothmuller

  59. Anna Llewellyn-Smith ( Stephens) May 2, 2014 Reply

    Dear Emannuel,

    Willing you a speedy recovery back to full health. You have achieved great things for African conservation as all those years ago we predicted you would. Anna x

  60. Toby Glanville May 4, 2014 Reply

    I have emailed several embassies in Congo requesting that measures be taken to protect Virunga National Park. The international community MUST unite to defend all the people and wildlife of the park. Make your voice heard and contact whomever you can.

    • Louise Lo Presti May 4, 2014 Reply

      Toby, superlative suggestion. I have sent you a PM via FaceBook to discuss. Regards.

  61. maria jose gonzalez velasco May 5, 2014 Reply

    Dear Emmanuel, all my best and deep wishes for your recovery.
    Far from you, in Madrid, Spain we know of your generosity and dedication to save nature. we want to share our gratitute for your work at Virunga Park. Take care and we pray for your recovery and continue efforts to save the enviroment and animals we love.
    thanks you and God bless you
    all the best,


  62. James Manuel May 5, 2014 Reply

    You are a amazing man to have done what you have achieved, in the hardest environment of all, the dangerous parts of Africa, to put your life on the line, for the any given time to receive, what we dread the most, a bullet, for the work we have done , you are a hero and a soldier of the greatest caliber. All our thoughts are with you.
    I will pass by and see you in Hospital
    All the Best James Manuel

  63. John Adams May 12, 2014 Reply

    I just saw the film this evening in Vancouver. This is the first I have heard of Virunga and of the incredible work you and your colleagues are doing. I was shocked to read of the attack on you. You are a brave and inspiring person. Thank you for your important work and leadership. I wish you a full and speedy recovery, and safety in future endeavours.

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