Armed Thieves Attack WWF Vehicle in Virunga National Park

Armed Thieves Attack WWF Vehicle in Virunga National Park

An attack on a vehicle of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo last week left two people dead and three others injured. The WWF vehicle was carrying 11 passengers through Virunga National Park, home to about half of the world's highly endangered mountain gorillas.

The wife of a park warden and an 18-year-old home helper were shot and killed. Three other passengers are recovering from gunshot wounds. The attack took place as the vehicle was returning from a training session for park rangers. According to Congolese radio reports, the crime was the work of armed thieves and was not directed at DRC's parks authority (ICCN) or WWF in particular.

For more than three decades, AWF has worked shoulder to shoulder with WWF and other groups to conserve the mountain gorilla and its fragile habitat. Only about 720 mountain gorillas remain in the world, about half of which dwell in the mountain range that straddles the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Today, AWF conducts that work through the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), a coalition of AWF, Fauna and Flora International, and WWF. IGCP protects these vulnerable great apes by promoting regional collaboration, researching the impacts of humans on wildlife, and working with local communities to find the right economic development to complement conservation efforts.

Continued instability in the DRC over the past 15 years has periodically derailed conservation efforts and repeatedly put rangers in harm's way. Despite such setbacks, park rangers and conservationists have continued to work together to understand and protect this great ape.

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) extends our deepest sympathy to the bereaved families and our well wishes to the passengers recovering from last week's attack.

To read more about the incident, click here.

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