It is with immense sadness that Virunga National Park confirms the deaths of 6 Park Rangers in an attack by armed assailants this morning, Sunday, January 10th, 2021.
One Ranger was seriously wounded in the assault. Fortunately, the Ranger has been taken to a hospital in Goma and his injuries are no longer considered life-threatening.
At approximately 7:30am, the Rangers were ambushed while on foot patrol inside the Park. The attack took place near Kabuendo, which is located near the border of the Park, in the Central sector, between Nyamilima and Niamitwitwi.
According to a statement by Virunga National Park, preliminary investigations indicate that the Rangers were taken by surprise and had no opportunity to defend themselves, and that those responsible for the attack are local Mai-Mai groups.
The identities of the Rangers who lost their lives are:
BURHANI ABDOU Surumwe, age 30 years
KAMATE MUNDUNAENDA Alexis, age 25 years
MANENO KATAGHALIRWA Reagan, age 27 years
KIBANJA BASHEKERE Eric, age 28 years
PALUKU BUDOYI Innocent, age 28 years
NZABONIMPA NTAMAKIRIRO Prince, age 27 years
Virunga National Park deeply regrets the tragic loss of life among its Rangers, who work tirelessly and with dedication to protect both the Park and the neighbouring communities from the tyranny of armed groups. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten nor be in vain.
The Rangers of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature are agents of the Congolese State. They do not have military status and their actions do not fall under the law of conflict.
All efforts will be undertaken to bring the perpetrators to justice and sustain the rule of law within the Park.
Virunga National Park remains committed to delivering development initiatives that benefit local people and the wider region, and working in partnership with local communities to bring peace and prosperity to many millions of people whose lives have for too long been blighted by conflict and the activities of armed groups.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone at Virunga National Park, including the families and friends of the victims, as well as the injured Ranger.
Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is 7,800-square-kilometres (3,000 sq mi), stretching from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Rwenzori Mountains National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
The park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and has been a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979. In recent years, poaching and the Congo Civil War have seriously damaged its wildlife population. The park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities, the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), and its partner the Virunga Foundation.