IGCP has recently provided upwards of $50,000 to the Congolese national park authority to help ensure mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park are protected from the ravages of war.
The complex conflict in the Congo, which has been simmering for years, recently erupted again, with rebels led by dissident General Laurent Nkunda capturing the Congolese Army post of Rumangabo, and nearby Virunga National Park headquarters. Fighting near the park headquarters continues, and in addition to creating a severe humanitarian crisis, it has led to questions as to whether the gorillas are able to be protected. Fleeing rangers have left vulnerable the Park’s Mikeno sector, which is the gorillas’ home.
IGCP has tapped $50,000 in emergency relief funds for providing humanitarian relief to those forced to flee, in addition to IGCP Congo staff and their families, who have safely been evacuated to the border town of Gisenyi in Rwanda. IGCP is working with its Virunga National Park partner, ICCN (Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation) to continue relief and conservation activities under the current difficult conditions.
Up to 22 rangers stayed near the park throughout the fighting, monitoring the gorillas on a daily basis. The emergency funding will go a long way in ensuring the gorillas continue to be protected and our staff and partners are safe, healthy and prepared to begin full time conservation work in the area again when conditions permit. With high level international government officials now involved in negotiating for an end to hostilities and supporting a coordinated humanitarian relief effort, IGCP continues to look forward to longer lasting peace. In the meantime, we remain vigilant in our gorilla conservation efforts and supportive of our partners and local communities.