The Democratic Republic of Congo, located in Central Africa, is a vast and diverse country known for its rich natural resources and huge variety of ethnic groups. With a population of over 80 million people, it is the second-largest country in Africa. At the northeast border with Rwanda and Uganda you will find Africa’s oldest national park, sprung from Albert National Park which was divided into Vulcan National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Famous for its population of mountain gorillas, the park has been put on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to the decline of the mountain gorilla population because of poachers. Other endangering factors include habitat destruction for agricultural and commercial reasons. Their population has now stabilized at around 1000 and seems to be growing slightly again.
Virunga National Park headquarters facilitates a unique project taking care of orphaned mountain gorillas. It is the only one of its kind worldwide and offers lush forests and a safe environment for the animals. They take care of animals that have suffered from animal poacher attacks or wildlife traffickers. In case of medical emergencies there are doctors on site to treat the victims appropriately.
It is important to stress that only rescued animals are held in the facility, as it would not benefit the whole population of the species to get unnecessary human contact of any kind. Gorillas are more vulnerable when contracting human diseases, which makes agricultural activities that threaten their habitat anyways even less fortunate.
In a bid to save the fertile land from agriculture, the 5 million inhabitants of the national park area are asked to make a great sacrifice. To save the future of animals and humans alike the Virunga Alliance was founded to foster a locally led sustainable economy through ecotourism, green agriculture and energy, potentially growing to a economic hub. Over 200 rangers have lost their lives protecting the values and lives of others in the fight against war and poachers.
To prevent wildlife from poacher’s attacks the national park‘s rangers received unusual helpers. Bloodhounds, famously known around the world for their incredibly sensible noses, are being trained to ‘main trail’ by the bloodhound expert Dr Marlene Zahner. They have several functions, for once they can track down poacher and protect the endangered species from the attacks. On the other side they can track injured rangers and help rescuing them.
If you want to support the park’s cause, there are several options. Simply buying a product from their gift shop helps financing the parks expenses. You can also broadly donate money or make a direct donation for different causes like adopting a gorilla or financing the Fallen Rangers Fund.