As the world marked World Ranger Day 2021 on 31st July, Protected Area authorities expressed their gratitude towards IGCP’s continued support to the parks especially the welfare of rangers. According to Prosper Uwingeli Chief Park Warden, Volcanoes National Park, the support extended to the rangers creates an enabling environment for the rangers and ensures the safety of the endangered mountain gorillas. Last financial year (2019-2020), IGCP with support from FFI, WWF-UK, WWF-Sweden, donated over One hundred and forty-nine thousand, two hundred eighteen point forty-one cents USD ($ 149,218.41) towards the work of rangers. In Virunga National Park-DRC, the funds were used to strengthen ranger patrols by covering Human Gorilla Conflict Resolution Team (HuGo) stipend worth $ 30,000, HuGo uniforms and gears worth $ 11,079.79 and purchasing SMART equipment worth $4500 to monitor illegal activities in the Park. Also, a donation worth $ 32,021 was given to support the families of fallen rangers who were murdered in April 2020 by armed assailants in the Virunga National Park. In Volcanoes National Park- Rwanda, COVID-19 relief food supplies worth $ 4,237.33 were provided to feed rangers at 10 patrol posts. Field bags worth $ 2,400 were also purchased to help rangers carry essentials like hand-sanitizers, masks, water bottles to the field. In Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area – Uganda, donations including food ratios worth $ 22,738, SMART equipment worth $ 21,248, Personal Protection Equipment against COVID – 19 worth $ 2,581 were also provided.
Commenting on the support received from IGCP, Emmanuel Bahati Lukoo the Chief Park Warden in Charge of Southern Sector of Virunga National Park said, “The funds received have enabled us to pay the HuGo teams whose work is very valuable to mountain gorilla monitoring and human wildlife conflict management”. Prosper Uwingeli on the other hand adds that, “The timely COVID-19 relief support from IGCP especially the food supplies have helped the park to control unnecessary movements of the rangers (to and from the park) that could expose them and the mountain gorillas to the fatal corona virus disease.”
Ranger welfare and safety is critical in ensuring the continued safety and protection of the mountain gorillas. We applaud all the rangers who have dedicated their lives to monitor and protect the mountain gorillas during this pandemic period.