Gorilla Guards in Virunga

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I’ve been rifling through the Team Leader’s photo file again, and trying not to wish I had taken these shots. As I said in an earlier post about the Congo, Graham went on an Africa overland trip a long time ago. He calls this era TBT – Time before Tish. He knows that I am deeply aggravated not to have visited all the countries he travelled through back then. Still, it means that you and I can at least enjoy these glimpses of one of the world’s most magnificent creatures.

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These photos were taken in the Virunga National Park, in the north east corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were taken in peaceful times. Tragically, in the last few decades since the Rwandan genocide of 1994, this vast park has become a haven for armed militias. (The background to this situation is covered in the Congo post).  By 2008 it looked as if Virunga, one of the most  bio-diverse places on earth, had been destroyed. But since then the park has been restored and much of this is down to the brave Congolese rangers who continue to risk their lives to protect the wildlife, including nearly 500 mountain gorillas. Parts of Virunga are even safe once more for tourism.

Virunga ranger

Photo: Gorilla.CD  Virunga National Parks official website

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The Gorilla.CD site is the best place to go for up-to-date reports on the Virunga National Park and its gorillas. Also see their gorilla blog for more fantastic pictures. And take a look at the fund-raising projects which need everyone’s support. Some one hundred and fifty rangers have been killed by militias. The most recently reported attack was in January this year (Virunga National Park Ranger Killed in DRC). Gorilla.CD has a project to support the rangers’ widows and children.

And yes, I did say it: tourism in this area is being revived. It takes place in part of the park where there is no militia threat. The Virunga National Park (3,000 square miles) is run by the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature and is a UNESCO world heritage site. May be one day I will go there too.

© 2014 Tish Farrell

Frizz’s Tuesday Challenge: tagged ‘G’