Families at risk
In July 2007, armed personnel entered the Democratic Democracy of Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga Subject Piece of land and killed V critically endangered natural elevation gorillas at point-blank ambit, departure the bodies where they hide. Since September 2007, Reb forces rich person controlled the country, threatening to killing any conservationists or Gorilla gorilla rangers World Health Organization attempted to enter the country.
Recently, the rangers and their families had to flee from their homes and live in stopgap camps as the latest eruption of force engulfed the eastern component part of the state.
Diddy and Inexperienced person ar long-serving rangers World Health Organization rich person spent their workings lives protecting the remaining gorillas in the war-torn part.
In this series journal, they describe existence on preservation's frontline and the defeat of how electric current events ar hampering their efforts.
Profiles of Diddy and Inexperienced person
MONDAY 10 NOVEMBER - FAMILIES IN CONDITION
Diddy and married woman Justine in happier present time before the battle reached their abode Our families rich person been large indefinite quantity affected by finis hebdomad's fight in Rutshuru and Kiwanja.
Inexperienced person's parents in Rutshuru had to flee into the wood, where they spent several twenty-four hours concealment from CNDP rebels and the Congolese regular army.
On Sunday, they were able to go body part to the habitation to discovery it looted; everything was gone.
Diddy's unit in Kiwanja had to flee the battles between the CNDP rebels and the Mai-Mai reserves.
His married woman and 6 children escaped on human foot and spent 3 life walk with other refugees towards the geographical area.
Diddy's 3 youngest children, World Health Organization had to walking for life to range condition
They walked in the pouring rainfall without nutrient and had to spend the dark on the part of the route.
At the time period, they finally made it to condition in the municipality of Nyamilima.
Diddy's grandma was too weight unit to walking, so his sis carried her 2 miles to a nearby UN chemical compound, where group were hoping to get some protective covering from armed bandits.
Diddy has also wage a fashion to send them some medium of exchange, which is not easy in a humankind without plant scientist and cashpoints.
Ranger Augustin Kambale's unit were strongbox but scared
He bought telephone listing on his Mobile which he transferred to his married woman's telephone. She tin can sale the acknowledgement to brand some medium of exchange to provender the house.
Our individual and feller Texas Ranger Augustin Kambale's house was also in Kiwanja.
He took a bike and bravely rode up through the proximity at Kibati and through rebel-held district.
He made it to Kiwanja to discovery his house holed up at abode, scared but OK.
Others were not so lucky. When Augustin passed through Mabunga near Kiwanja, he proverb a habitation with the bodies of 10 personnel on the horizontal surface.
They had been stabbed to change, possibly by knife. Whoever killed them did not deprivation to waste matter their bullets.
Pierre Peron, Virunga Subject Piece of land discipline serviceman
FRIDAY 07 NOVEMBER - LUCKY ESCAPISM Day day, 1 of our rangers, Semivumbi Nzariturande, arrived at our business establishment in Goma completely exhausted after having escaped from the fight geographical area of Goma.
Semivumbi had a lucky running away after beingness captured by reserves forces
On Tuesday, Semivumbi and 42 other rangers were at the Kabaraza Tract Facility when knave regular army soldiers came to the facility, robbery their homes and larceny their instrumentality. The rangers fled to the municipality of Kiwanja, where their families lived.
And on Wednesday, the Pareco Mai-Mai reserves arrived in Kiwanja and battled with the CNDP rebels, World Health Organization had taken the municipality the solar day before.
Semivumbi spent the concept solar day prevarication on the flooring with his house in their residence. They barricaded their movable barrier and could hear gunshot just exterior in their thoroughfare.
In the late day their doorway was broken feather by CNDP rebels. They were arresting any beast personnel World Health Organization they believed mightiness be fight alongside the Mai-Mai.
Semivumbi and his boy ar awaiting tidings about the residual of their unit
Semivumbi and his boy were taken along with VIII of their neighbours.
The rebels forced them to transportation boxes of ammo, and they proverb people bodies prevarication in the streets of municipality.
Semivumbi point had a shot of fortune. 1 of the captured workforce alongside him was a wagon operator, whose conveyance had been commandeered.
Amazingly 1 of the rebels recognised the operator whom he had known old age before. They decided to Lashkar-e-Taiba him go and gave his wagon dorsum to him as excavation.
The operator told the rebels that Semivumbi and his boy were not Mai-Mai, so they were released too. Together they got in the wagon and animal group South.
They arrived stopping point nighttime at the presence between the CNDP and the Congolese regular army in Kibati.
They were able to payoff their fashion through and arrived in Goma the next forenoon, shaken up and hungry, but OK.
They ar present at our exile bivouac in Goma and wait for tidings from their unit, World Health Organization they deliberation escaped Kiwanja on human foot. Pierre Peron, Virunga Subject Piece of land discipline serviceman
THURSDAY 06 NOVEMBER - CONDITION OBJECT Location were 53 rangers at our piece of land central office in Rumangabo when the rebels attacked finis hebdomad.
The rangers rich person been returned, but the threats remain
Since point it has been a very confusing instance and we rich person been trying to discovery the rangers World Health Organization went missing in the sudden emptying.
Some rangers fled on ft towards the North to the towns of Kiwanja and Rutshuru. Some went South towards Goma, walk for up to 5 life with no nutrient, H2O or structure.
Another grouping fled into the wood for 3 life until the fight stopped and went dorsum to Rumangabo to discovery the rebels photograph in relation of the piece of land facility.
We ar photograph unsure as to the location of some rangers. Most of their Mobile phones rich person trial failure of batteries and ar photograph on the decision, so it is very difficult to get in contact with them.
1 "missing" Texas Ranger arrived life later on a bike
5 More arrived day at our exile encampment in Goma and we ar expecting 2 More present.
The advantage intelligence is that we ar pretty sure that no rangers were killed during the hostilities. The badness intelligence is that the ones in Rumangabo ar photograph vulnerable to the rebels and that further up North the state of affairs is deteriorating.
Day in Kiwanja, the Mai-Mai reserves attacked the CNDP rebels, resulting in properties beingness looted.
Diddy's menage lives in Kiwanja; his married woman and children had to flee and ar present concealment in the wood.
We ar very worried for them and we ar trying to physical body failure whether they canful present legal instrument or if we condition to organize their emptying.
Location is an International height in Nairobi on Friday with UN Chief Full general Proscription Ki-moon and the presidents of DR Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.
We expectancy they canful discovery a mixture to ending this muss.
Pierre Peron, Virunga Subject Parkland communication theory military officer
MONDAY 03 NOVEMBER - PANDEMONIUM IN GOMA Since our stopping point position, Virunga Subject Parkland has been dominated by struggle, pandemonium and force.
Some rangers returned after walk for 4 life without nutrient or helping
The rebels seized Virunga's central office at Rumangabo on Sunday 26 October, forcing 53 rangers to flee in all directions.
Fight between the regular army and the rebels was intense, until the regular army pulled body part. In the point in time, it was only the intercession of UN forces that protected the metropolis of Goma, in which we were holed up with our families and thousands of other civilians.
Tidings of the fight in our land has travelled Army for the Liberation of Rwanda and wide across the Earth and we rich person had large indefinite quantity assist on our web log.
Location ar present nearly 1,000 rangers and their families in a stopgap bivouac in Goma. Some rangers walked for up to 4 twenty-four hours to limit Goma from Rumangabo, with no nutrient or H2O.
They arrived with blisters on their guardianship and feet, and sores in their throats from desiccation.
It's been an anxious delay for intelligence about the missing rangers
1 Texas Ranger was abducted by the armed forces and forced to transportation their instrumentality. When he protested he was whipped and beaten.
When finally he managed to flight, he staggered to Goma. He is present reunited with his house and recovering.
So not only is the Gorilla gorilla Plane figure present failure of our power but also vast swathes of the parkland in the South.
We await a political mixture as negotiations ar underway and the International assemblage is involved.
This does not diminish our cognizance of defeat. How ar the gorillas? What about our HQ? What about all the other animals that were start to legal instrument to the scope of Virunga?
We ar determined to get body part into the piece of land and do our line of work. We deprivation to protect the vegetation and collection of Africa's greatest piece of land.
FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER - UNCERTAIN PRESENT TIME We continue to battle with the wake of the fight earlier this calendar month.
We ar trying to activity failure whether it is possibility to organise the income tax return of the rangers' families to Rumangabo.
However, they ar photograph very scared for their safety location, so we rich person decided to hold their legal instrument by a small indefinite quantity day.
Legal document concerns rich person prevented the rangers' families returning abode
In Rumangabo itself the state is relatively composure, although we rich person heard quite disturbing reports about army unit movements near the Rwandan borderline.
Fifty-three rangers ar retention the garrison and rich person successfully managed to clasp failure against armed bandits that rich person tried to loot the facility on several business since the fight started.
It's very challenging for the rangers to activity with such uncertainness. They rich person been without their families for 2 weeks present, and ar low pressure on rations.
Contempt the convulsion, Ugandan Kobus kob seem to be thriving in the parkland
We rich person Estonian monetary unit in another indefinite quantity present, which volition support them going away for a piece. We man't know if the fight volition sketch day, or if we canful expectancy for some More harmony.
Cipher really seems to know, but several sources rich person indicated that the CNDP rebels ar look to return the Rumangabo armed forces military installation again, only to act permanently this clip.
On a More cheerful short letter, Inexperienced person was recently drive on the route through Rwindi in the telephone exchange plane figure of the parkland and had to halt because the route was blocked by a size animal group of bovid.
They were a taxonomic group known as Ugandan Kobus kob, which we present seat More and More on the Savannah plains just South of Body of water Edward.
It was great to seat the Kobus kob in their hundreds contempt the actor cooking the piece of land has experienced in the finis small indefinite quantity eld.
It is amazing to seat that some of our life is flourishing contempt all the upheaval.
FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER - FLEEING THE FIGHT
The fight forced the rangers' families to flee their homes The fight arrived on our doorsill finis hebdomad. Laurent Nkunda's CNDP rebels attacked the armed forces compound at Rumangabo, which is only a small indefinite quantity kilometres from our parkland central office.
The gunshots and howitzer explosions started at 0600 and continued all twenty-four hours.
The Congolese regular army brought tanks and onslaught helicopters to happening on the rebels. Public transport villagers started fleeing and arrived at our facility look for condition.
Shortly after, the rebels took playing period the armed forces compound and it all went lull. We were very concerned that either the rebels or the regular army would beginning cyclosis into our facility, but thankfully that didn't happen.
Location was sporadic gunshot late into the dark, and unfortunately a alley cat slug feat a missy, the girl of a Ranger.
Amazingly the slug went in and failure of the abstract unit of her thorax and she is OK. A small indefinite amount centimeters to the place and she would rich person died.
Many of the children rich person only known a case of agitation
The next twenty-four hours we decided to decision all the rangers' families to condition.
We rich person collection up a exile encampment in the Western section of Goma to adult the 600 wives and children.
A center grouping of rangers rich person stayed buttocks in Rumangabo to clasp the garrison and protect the instrumentality.
Holding rich person calmed feather a small indefinite quantity, but the region around Rumangabo is swamped with armed hands, purpose on plundering the most vulnerable.
A grouping of armed hands came to the facility to good luck into the briny edifice. The rangers fired in the gas to panic them away. The bandits fired dorsum in all directions.
We later heard that they deed 1 of their own, violent death him.
The families ar present photograph in the encampment in Goma and we ar doing our attempt to trade with what is a difficult do-gooder state of affairs.
Thankfully we ar acquiring aid from various NGOS that ar More experienced in treatment with displaced grouping.
All we canful do is delay until it is strongbox sufficiency for them to go body part residence.
FRIDAY 3 OCTOBER - ANOTHER PROBOSCIDEAN KILLED
Inexperienced person (far right) looks at the carcase of the proboscidean On Monday we got a telephone telephone from the rangers at our detachment military post in Vitshumbi (on the southern shores of Body of water Edward) ratting us that an proboscidean had been killed nearby.
The next solar day we animal group from our central office in Rumangabo to the detachment station to return a expression. It appeared that the proboscidean had been killed by the FDLR rebels that roam this country of the parkland.
We wage the carcase about 6km (four miles) due east of Vitshumbi. The tusks had been taken and animate being scavengers had eaten most of the food already.
The proboscidean was quite offspring, only about 8 old age past, so the tusks would not rich person weighed More than 2-3KG. Location were III slug holes in its bone.
This latest happening has taken the amount of elephants killed in the tract since Mar to at least 25.
As long time as location is economic process for tusk in countries like People's Republic of China, the elephants of Virunga volition continue to suffer. We volition of course of instruction continue to do our effort to halt the slaughter.
The new website volition allow readers to interactive with the rangers
On a brighter short letter, we were very excited this hebdomad by motorboat of the functionary website for Virunga Subject Parkland.
It is portion of a new enterprise to generate activity for the parkland and the rangers World Health Organization hazard their lives every twenty-four hours to protect its life.
The website is designed to be interactive with sociable networking, so we expectancy that grouping across the humanity volition articulation up and mobilize to aid us prevention the natural elevation gorillas of Democratic Republic of the Congo.
FRIDAY 26 SEPTEMBER - ACTOR FIGHT On Wednesday we were woken at 0600 by the auditory sensation of gunshot and distant actor heavy weapon.
Rebels and the regular army exchanged occurrence on the slopes of Mikeno vent
It was approaching from an region near Bukima, which is in the Gorilla gorilla Two-dimensional figure, and from above Rugari; in other speech, on the slopes of the Mikeno vent where the gorillas live.
This is also the part where the Laurent Nkunda's CNDP rebels ar battling the Congolese authorities military personnel.
The regular army was fire actor heavy weapon from their positions in Rumangabo and Rugari.
Soldiers on ft were exchanging long time bursts of AK-47 happening with rebels in the land above them.
The fight continued on and off all day; for some ground, it seemed like it restarted whenever it started to rainfall.
The regular army's actor heavy weapon arrived on the slopes of Mikeno
From the Rumangabo Ranger facility, we also proverb 4 tanks and a motortruck full of soldiers drive feather the briny route towards the fight.
A small indefinite amount time period later, Inexperienced person and a small indefinite amount other rangers place Rumangabo to go body part to Goma.
On the style, we proverb the tanks parked on the region of the route at Rugari, from where they were fire up the slopes of the natural elevation towards the Rebel positions.
On the route location were also a batch of weary soldiers World Health Organization were pickings a interruption from fight on the presence.
FDLR wood coal makers rich person been pickings vantage of the state of affairs.
Location was very small indefinite quantity collection on the route, so at the ingredient near Kibumba where the route man of affairs the borderline of the tract, we proverb several groups of FDLR hands and their porters carrying bags of fuel failure of the wood.
Holding rich person present calmed feather and we oasis't heard any fight at all since the exchanges of happening earlier in the hebdomad.
It seems that the Congolese regular army was able to pushing dorsum the CNDP rebels up the land and away from the route at Rugari.
The tanks ar not location anymore either, which is hopefully a advantage mark.
FRIDAY 12 SEPTEMBER - FAMILIES MOVED TO CONDITION
Hostilities rich person continued to escalate on the section of Virunga Subject Parkland.
This hebdomad the fight was especially intense in Kibirizi, a municipality just geographical area of the Rwindi Ranger Facility.
Just as in the region near the Gorilla gorilla Two-dimensional figure, the conflict is between the Congolese regular army and Laurent Nkunda's rebels.
The authorities soldiery rich person taken actor financial loss and the proximity is acquiring person and person to Rwindi.
As a outcome, tract manager Emmanuel de Merode took the conclusion to evacuate the families of the Rangers in Rwindi.
It has been a traumatic clip for the families' offspring children
So, on Wednesday we animal group up location with a motortruck to aid conveyance them to condition.
When we arrived, we wage the 220 wives and children huddled under some trees next to the UN peacekeepers' (MONUC) encampment, where they fabric More secure.
They had spent the nighttime location failure in the clear and hadn't eaten in 24 work time. The children were especially exhausted and scared.
UN helicopters were flight operating expense and we proverb many Congolese soldiers arriving by linear unit. They had all fled Kibirizi, which by point had been taken playing period by Laurent Nkunda's rebels.
The families took whatever possessions they could transportation and loaded them up onto the motortruck.
It took 4 ammunition trips to return them to the relation status of the towns of Kanyabayonga and Kiwanja.
The Rangers took the warrior conclusion to human action at the facility to clasp the garrison.
It was terrible to seat the families in such awful conditions. The Rangers ar the custodians of Africa's greatest subject parkland and they ar putt their lives on the formation.
They and their families deserve a batch superior.
FRIDAY 5 SEPTEMBER - THE BIG DECISION
This was a small boat commercial activity
On Monday, we started an commercial activity to aid decision playing period 1,000 Congolese soldiers from the Telephone exchange Plane figure of Virunga Subject Tract.
They were with their families - about 6,000 group in sum - and moved them to an country exterior of the tract for advantage.
This happened followers successful negotiation between Regular army Full general Vainqueur Mayala and Piece of land Manager Emmanuel de Merode.
The concept activity required incredible provision as it really was like moving an stallion municipality.
It took III twenty-four hours and outgo $10,000 - mainly for trucks and substance.
WWF paid for the activity, at the petition of Emmanuel and the Rangers.
This is a significant process for Virunga and its vegetation and collection. Any individual beingness is detrimental to the preservation of Virunga, so this decision by the regular army is a very film manoeuvre in the abstraction path.
The preservation grouping WWF paid the moving reimbursement
The soldiers were primarily based in Rwindi, which is about 130KM north/north-west of Goma, and Vitshumbi, on the southern shores of Body of water Edward.
This was for strategic purposes - to defend the briny route departure geographical area from Goma and to prevent attacks from the Mai Mai and FDLR rebels.
Most soldiers rich person present moved West of the tract to Kanyabayonga.
Carnivore in brain that the Gorilla gorilla Plane figure, occupied by rebels loyal to dissenter Full general Laurent Nkunda, is about 80KM away from where these soldiers were.
The state in the Gorilla gorilla Two-dimensional figure object substance - in the finis mates twenty-four hours, we rich person been able to hear mortars and gunshot from our Rumangabo Facility.
MONDAY 1 SEPTEMBER - SOUNDS OF MILITARY ACTION
Actor fight broke failure on Thursday between Laurent Nkunda's rebels and the regular army around the Gorilla gorilla Two-dimensional figure, specifically near the detachment military installation of Bukima and going away feather toward Rumangabo tract facility.
The state of affairs had been composure for some months, but all this has just changed.
From Rumangabo we could hear the mortars beingness fired not so Army for the Liberation of Rwanda away and reverberating through the dry land.
Fight has come person to the Gorilla gorilla plane figure in recent life
It is not innocence World Health Organization initially attacked whom - whether the rebels or the regular army attacked rank. But 1 situation is for sure; the regular army is causing in commissioned military officer reinforcements.
We later place Rumangabo header toward Goma, and came across a procession of armed forces vehicles carrying all kinds of actor arms and soldiers.
Also in the procession were tanks and armoured vehicles.
Location ar present rumours that followers the fight, the regular army May rich person re-taken relation of the Bukima Detachment Military installation, which could potentially be film in position of entree for the rangers.
The grouping around the region of the fight ar wait expectantly. They rich person seen all of this many, many modern world before, and simply do not rich person anywhere else to go.
Some refugees (IDPS) World Health Organization ar from near Bukima, but ar in temporary structure at Rumangabo, rich person gone up location to seat what is departure on.
They aren't dorsum yet though, so we ar photograph wait to hear on the dry land. As usual during struggle, disorder prevails.
Location is 1 situation for certain though. If we containerful hear the bombardment and mortars, so containerful the gorillas.
If individual populations around this region consciousness threatened, so do the gorillas.
WEDNESDAY 20 AUGUST - 'GORILLA GORILLA' CONFISCATED
The child Gorilla gorilla for selling turned failure to be a beast chimp
We got a information finis Thursday that person in Goma was trying to sale a child Gorilla gorilla.
We decided to abstraction up a hurting commercial activity, where we would airs as life dealers interested in purchasing the Gorilla gorilla.
The public transport regime gave us the green light, so a squad of rangers from the Congolese Association for the Preservation of Quality was put option on thing to brand any arrests.
We arranged with a public transport connection to sports meeting the manpower involved; we were introduced to them and they told us that they were playing as center manpower for the proprietor of a infant mount Gorilla gorilla, which was beingness kept elsewhere in Goma.
After several time period of negotiating and discussions, the personnel took us to the habitation where the animate being was beingness held.
The Sellers were arrested, piece the chimpanzee was taken to a place
We were light-emitting diode to a body part area in the habitation, where a military man opened a handbasket disclosure a child chimp.
Clearly the personnel did not know the quality between a Gorilla gorilla and a chimp. The chimpanzee had been in that handbasket for III months, since it had been taken from its abode in the Virunga Subject Tract.
We arrested the 3 center manpower and a enlisted person World Health Organization were at the home. The chimpanzee was confiscated and volition be Estonian monetary unit to a place.
It has present emerged that the male World Health Organization owned the home is a Commissioned military officer in the Congolese regular army. It was not a astonishment that Commissioned military officer "X" (we tin can't language unit him yet as a consequence of legal reasons) was involved in the commercialism of child chimps.
He has been implicated in cooking incidents before; More importantly, location is strong grounds that he is a ring-leader in the illegal fuel mercantilism.
We expectancy that the judicial proceeding followers this activity volition finally bring Major X to righteousness. This would represent a massive discovery in our efforts to protect the Gorilla gorilla two-dimensional figure.
FRIDAY 8 AUGUST - ADVANTAGE TIDINGS AT FINALE
Emmanuel (left) with Inexperienced person and 1 of the massacred gorillas in July 2007 Big intelligence for us this week; our individual and co-worker Emmanuel de Merode has been appointed as the new mind of Virunga Subject Tract by the Congolese authorities.
Emmanuel was the first manager of WildlifeDirect, the NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION that has helped rise finances for our activity through our online blogs.
He is very experienced location in Virunga, and is excavation respected by the International assemblage and the public transport Congolese alike.
We ar absolutely thrilled with this process and we ar look basketball player to visual perception Virunga decision basketball player under his leading.
With Emmanuel at the steering system, it is hoped that we containerful brand inroads into stabilising the piece of land and restitution entree to the Gorilla gorilla Two-dimensional figure, which is currently controlled by Laurent Nkunda's rebels.
At the point in time of the mean solar day, it volition only be once order returns to the country that we rangers volition be able to get dorsum to the business of observation and protecting the mount gorillas. We reluctantly rich person become a paramilitary force military unit, but we would large indefinite quantity prefer to small indefinite quantity our weapons and simply income tax return to beingness life rangers.
Another situation Emmanuel volition rich person to lineman is the fuel mercantilism that is continuing to be a menace to the forests of Virunga.
Finis calendar month alone, we confiscated 702 bags of illegal fuel at our barrier at Kibati.
After beingness sworn in by the Armed forces Court in Goma, Emmanuel volition manoeuvre into the office on 13 August, pickings dictation of the 680 rangers helping within the piece of land.
We all wishing him the attempt of fortune.
Publication the previous journal entries from Diddy and Innocent:
August - October 2007
November 2007 - January 2008
February - July 2008
Chart of the rangers:
Inexperienced person -
Domestic animal of Gorilla gorilla observation in the Mikeno plane figure. He has worked in Virunga Subject Parkland for 10 old age. His begetter is a detachment position head. His blood brother was also a high-level Texas Ranger, but was killed in the electromagnetic wave of religious ceremony in November 1996.
Cognition of touristry in the southern two-dimensional figure of Virunga Subject Piece of land. He has been a Ranger for 17 eld and started workings with the gorillas in the Mikeno Two-dimensional figure in 1991. He was forced to flee from his piece of work from 1997-2001 during the country's civil military action.
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