Virunga national park’s warden credits rangers with keeping mountain gorillas and visitors safe despite conflict fuelled by plunder of natural resources

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.

Over the years, a ranger’s responsibility – they are required to uphold the law across Congo’s vast wilderness areas – has stretched them beyond the traditional function of protecting wildlife. Instead, Virunga’s rangers have been placed at the frontline of a deeply complex conflict which has been described by Oxfam as the greatest human tragedy since the second world war, and which has led to the deaths of more than six million civilians.

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Source: Guardian Environment