I have received a lot of training in Wildlife Management over the years, and have even been trained as an alpine mountain guide. I was formerly with Advance Force of Rangers, but I am now based in Ishango, on the northern shores of Lake Edward (Atamato’s former post).
Over the years, I have worked all over Virunga National Park (which was established in 1925 and is Africa’s oldest national park). I have been directly involved with protecting the mountain gorillas of the Mikeno sector, near the borders Rwanda and Uganda. I have also been involved in anti-poaching patrols in Garamba National Park to the north, where we protected the park from Sudanese poachers.
Here I am with Buhanga, a solitary Silverback in the Mikeno sector. This photo was taken in 2007.
The life of a ranger is eventful and full of surprises. When I was based in Tongo, in the west of the park, I had to crack down on local villagers trying to farm within the boundaries of Virunga National Park. I also worked hard to break up a network of poachers. It was these activities that led to a plot to assassinate me. Luckily, I caught word of the this before any attempt was made on my life, and managed to escape the area.
I am doing an inventory here of our ammunition. This photo was taken by professional photographer, Paul Taggart, who visited us in Mutsora for several days in May 2007.
Our greatest challenge is protecting the mountain gorillas and other wildlife in the park. Many of our rangers have died protecting mountain gorillas from land invasions, poachers and rebels — more than 120 in the last 10 years. Despite this staggering loss of life, we have been fairly successful.
On patrol with my fellow rangers in Ishango
The population of mountain gorillas has actually increased by about 14% during the terrible civil war that has affected our country since 1996. The sporadic fighting that has been happening ever since has meant that Virunga is filled with weapons and militias. This makes our job both difficult and extremely dangerous.
We also receive valuable support from you through the website. This helps us keep our trucks maintained and on the road. Tough, 4 X 4 vehicles are vital to our work in Virunga — and can literally mean the difference between life or death.
We are very short on support and depend on your donations because we rarely get our salaries from the government. Without your help, we wouldn’t have the rations or equipment for patrols. That is why when you donate, you truly become part of the ranger force protecting the park.
Thank you for all your support!
I am the Deputy Warden at Ishango, on the northern shores of Lake Edward.