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Margaret Mead, American anthropologist, 1901-1978

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Virunga National Park and Mountain Gorillas

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Mountain gorillas are under threat in the Virunga National Park in the DRC. 

It’s a popular tourist area, known for its mountain gorillas.   It covers 3,000 square miles, and its three sectors – north, central and south – have an unrivalled diversity of landscapes and ecosystems. It was founded back in 1925 as Parc Albert, and it was the first national park to be established on the African continent, primarily to protect the mountain gorillas who were living in the forests of the Virunga Massif.  The park is a Unesco World Heritage site.   It is home to several hundred species of birds, mammals and reptiles.

The world’s entire population of critically endangered mountain gorillas live only ini the Virunga Massife and Bwindi.   The Virunga National Park is home to about a third of these wonderful animals.  Currently it is estimated that there are about 1,000 mountain gorillas.    Find out more about the park’s history here

There are currently over 700 male and female rangers actively protecting the park and the communities surrounding its borders.  And let’s not forget the dogs who are part of the Virunga National Park Canine Unit, an invaluable part of the team.

Urgent funds are needed:

  • To protect the endangered mountain gorillas
  • To support the rangers
  • To support the families of rangers who have fallen in the line of duty.  Over 175 rangers have been killed in the line of duty.
  • To deliver essential disease prevention efforts

Challenge such as this need heroes and each and every ranger is one, fighting to protect these amazing animals and give their families an income at the same time.  Rangers do an extremely dangerous job, putting their lives on the line every day, to look after wildlife.  Find out about the Rangers Project here.

Leonardo DiCaprio has contributed to a new fund which aims to support the Virunga National Park. Earth Alliance, a group co-founded by DiCaprio, has donated part of the initial £1.65 million funding.  Di-Caprio was an executive producer on the documentary Virunga.  (It was nominated for an Oscar in 2014.)

On Monday, the park launched the Virunga Fund, which is made up of donations from groups such as Emerson Collective, Global Wildlife Conservation and Earth Alliance.   The EU have also contributed.

Unprecedented threats are facing the gorillas 

Its closure to tourists due to the coronavirus has resulted in a considerable loss of income.

Covid-19 poses an existential threat to the gorillas – WWF has warned that they are at risk of catching the coronavirus because they share 98% of their DNA with humans

 A month after the park was closed, 12 park rangers, a drive and four members of the local community were killed in a terrible attack by 60 militiamen, who ambused a group of civilians being protected by the rangers.  At the time, a statement from the park said it was an attack on local civilians, rather than the rangers themselves.

The rangers are racing against the clock to protect the local communities around the park and the gorillas. 

You can help:

You can help by spreading the word - following the Virunga Park on social media and making a donation

  • $8 funds a pair of new boots for a ranger
  • $32 funds a ranger for a day (including family health insurance)
  • $50 funds a month of support for the widow and children of a Fallen Ranger
  • $150 funds two weeks of food and supplements for an orphan gorilla
  • $300 funds an hour of flight time for an anti-poaching patrol
  • $500 funds a one day tactical elephant protection operation
  • $1,000 funds a comprehensive sweep and remove of deadly snares in the mountain gorilla sector.

 Donate here

And remember, every little helps.



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