Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park. This majestic landscape includes a tremendous variety of wildlife and ecosystems. This Unesco World Heritage site, Virunga is home to the last remaining population of mountain gorilla. This park is sacred ground for the 880 gorillas that call this park home.
Adding hardship to tragedy, Virunga is in an active war-zone located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, near the border of Rwanda and Uganda. The park has to cope with a civil war, poachers, and active oil exploitation. In the thick of this ongoing unrest, though, the people charged with caring for and protecting the animals and lands of Virunga National Park remain undaunted. Standing up for this natural wonder is a tall task, 140 rangers have been tragically killed in the past few years defending this animal refuge.
Andre Bauma is one of the heroes of this story. Bauma has spent the last nine years working at The Senkwekwe Center, the only facility existing in the world that takes care of orphaned mountain gorillas. Four orphan gorillas currently live at the center: Maisha, Ndakasi, Ndeze, and Kaboko.
Bauma states, “When you love them, they respect you and you may then give them order and they will understand you. I know how to let them know that everything is okay or to prevent them from doing something. I can tell when they are hungry or when they are sad, angry, happy, afraid. We communicate in many different ways.”
As you can see from the photo above, Bauma is accepted as a peer among the gorilla. Thanks to their dedication the mountain gorilla population now has a true chance at survival. The park relies just as much on the gorillas, as they do on the park. We all play our role in the ecosystem. It is up to us all to support the people fighting so hard to maintain and protect this wild, natural habitat for the sake of all of us.
You can help Bauma and his fellow rangers by sharing this post and raising awareness for what is happening to Virunga National Park, To learn more about how you can help the efforts of Virunga park rangers, click here. A big A4P shout out and thank you to Andre Bauma and the rest of the team at Virunga.