Five wildlife rangers killed during rebel ambush in DRC

The Virunga National Park in the largely lawless east of Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the mountain gorilla and other critically endangered species.

FILE: A UN peacekeeper stands near a board forbidding hunting in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Picture: AFP

PRETORIA – Five wildlife rangers and their driver have been killed in a rebel ambush in Africa’s oldest game reserve.

The Virunga National Park in the largely lawless east of the Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the mountain gorilla and other critically endangered species.

This is the worst attack to date in the Virunga National Park, whose director Prince Emmanuel de Merode was critically injured in an assassination attempt four years ago.

The park that boasts Africa’s most diverse wildlife habitat is threatened by rebels seeking to capitalise on the vast charcoal industry still feeding the DRC’s energy needs.

The rangers are recruited from the local population and earn salaries that enable them to comfortably raise families.

However, no fewer than 150 of them have been killed in the park since 1996.