A ranger in Virunga national park has a 44% chance of suffering a violent death during their career, the highest rate of service deaths for any national park in the world. Yet, of the 34 rangers who have lost their lives since I was appointed as Virunga’s warden in 2008, 27 were killed protecting civilians and not the park’s wildlife.
Photo of Emmanuel de Mérode, Warden at Virunga National Park. Photograph: Brent Stirton/Getty Images
They are amazing heroes to risk so much. And, happily, are seeing the fruits of their labors:
In recent years, the mountain gorillas – Virunga’s most famous and most vulnerable resident – have doubled in numbers. More recently, the rangers’ efforts have led abductions to drop from around 18 a month to none in the past two months.