Innocent Mburanumwe Protecting Endangered Gorillas from Murderous Poachers


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Founded in 1925, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been called the jewel in the crown of Africa’s nature reserves.

Inside its boundaries live some of the world’s last mountain gorillas where they face many threats, above all from poachers. Protecting them is also fraught with danger.

So far, 140 rangers have been murdered. But this hasn’t deterred Innocent Mburanumwe, warden of the Southern Sector at Virunga, from fighting on the front line to protect one of the world’s rarest creatures.

The main threats to gorillas in Virunga is war, there was no control by the rangers. The rebels penetrated deep inside the forest and tried to destroy it. That was a huge threat to the mountain gorillas. Today, the main threats come from disease and poachers.

In 2007 there was a massacre of one family, they lost about seven gorillas and they were all heartbroken. From that time, they have tried to work very hard to concentrate their forces to just protect them and that they remain in good health. Every day, they launch patrols, sending teams inside the forest so they can control the area. Sometimes they come across and destroy poachers snares metal traps or ropes.

Gorillas are poached for money, to sell to rich people, who keep them in their gardens as pets. They think that if they take a baby gorilla it will survive, but if you take a mountain gorilla from his habitat, it can’t live. It’s going to die because it’s away from its natural habitat.

About 140 rangers have been killed in the line of duty. They have been attacked by rebels and poachers. We are facing many problems in this country.

Mburanumwe is always armed with rifles as when they encounter poachers they will be armed, and they have to exchange fire.

His day to day activities include watching gorilla families to see how they are communicating and that they are safe in the forest. The closest he get is about eight meters. But sometimes, if there are babies and juveniles, when they see us they sometimes approach as close as six meters.

He love them because they are so similar to us. If you look at their faces and heads, their feet and hands, they are just like him. He considers them as his children. Seeing them playing and communicating, they are just like humans.

He works at Senkwekwe Center in Rumangabo, where they look after four gorillas: three mountain gorillas and one lowland. Some babies survived the 2007 massacre, so they decided to bring them here to protect them.

His inspiration is to see gorillas survive. He don’t want to lose one single gorilla, because they are the last in the world.

Content source: national