Virunga National Park Rangers
Virunga National Park Rangers are tasked with the protection and patrol of the park. Virunga National Park, one of Africa’s oldest national parks established in 1925 first as Albert National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was recognised for its outstanding biodiversity, including rare species like mountain gorillas. Virunga National Park despite its magnificent beauty and immense attraction has seen darker day of endless rebel activity over the years, which saw a number of mountain gorillas and other park animals losing their life in the midst of crossfire with government armed forces. In the past, there had been cases of kidnap and killing of civilians, visitors and Virunga Park rangers, which forced the closure of the park for some time since 2018 to early 2019, when the park was reopened to visitors after serious efforts to prevent another attack in park, say extensive training and deployment of Virunga National Park Rangers as well as provision of military personnel to aid in transfer to and from the park. Unrests in Virunga National Park itself ceased, with the park being secure and availed to tourists to visit to take part in various park activities including gorilla trekking and hiking Mount Nyiragongo among others.
There are over 700 Virunga National Park rangers actively serving to protect not only the park but also the communities surrounding it. Of these 700 rangers, at least 27 of them are female. The Virunga National Park rangers are at the frontline of conservation for the protection of the park’s wildlife, natural resources and surrounding communities, and stand fearlessly for the same cause. Before deployment to serve in the park, Virunga National Park rangers undergo a thorough selection process and extensive training. These rangers are selected from local Congolese villages and towns and are trained to become fit to become civil servants in the Congolese National Park Authority.
Virunga Park rangers are deployed in the three sectors of the park that is the north, central and south, most a times in very difficult circumstances, facing threats from many fronts and thus risking their lives. There are more than 176 Virunga National Park rangers that have lost their life in line of duty since 1925.
The park has however a technological edge over poachers and militias, with the park advancing in its use of geographical information systems (GIS) as well as satellite communications in the park by the ranges and officials. The technology availed to the park helps in verifying and defending the park’s boundaries to safe keep them from encroachers, and also develop maps that plot wildlife movement, militia and poacher camps and available ranger patrols, thus enabling the Virunga National Park rangers to focus their efforts accordingly in the safest way possible.
In 2016 alone, there were 3500 hours of aerial surveillance conducted. Virunga National Park rangers can conduct 10000 routine patrols covering 3500 square kilometres per month and in a year do foot patrols covering a distance that is estimated to be larger than the circumference of the earth. These rangers are so committed to their work for they desire to protect Virunga National Park not only for the people of Congo but for the entire world, that you and many more can come and experience its magnificent beauty and amazing wildlife.
There is a fund that was put in place that people may donate towards improving the lives of the Virunga National Park rangers who risk their life for the park, as well as provide them with better equipment such that they are well equipped to handle any situation that arises. If interested in making a contribution for the protection and conservation of the park, you may visit the official Virunga national park website and be directed on how to best to do.
Virunga National Park is a very fascinating and beautiful park that is still wild and untapped that travellers on a Congo safaris tour could experience a true African encounter. There are a number of activities that include gorilla trekking to see the endangered mountain gorillas, hiking Mount Nyiragongo to see the world’s largest lava lake, bird watching where there are a lot of endemics that are worth spotting, nature trails that give travellers an opportunity to explore the park greatly, chimpanzee habituation in the park, among so many other activities that could definitely make your visit worthwhile. Take time to get in touch with a reputable tour operator of your choice and plan for one of the most memorable African safaris you would ever engage in. combining a Virunga National Park safari with any other destination in the Congo say Tchegera Island or maybe Queen Elizabeth National Park of Uganda for its immense wildlife and tree climbing lions, or even with a Tanzania safari. Whatever you choose, be sure to meet Virunga National Park rangers while on your visit in the park, who protect not only the park but also you its visitors.