Virunga National Park is a 7800 square kilometer World Heritage Site that lies on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the is the second oldest national park in the world, behind only Yellowstone, and the oldest in Africa. It is the most diverse national park on the African continent that boasts savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, forests, active volcanoes and the ice fields of the Rwenzori Mountains. Among Virunga’s numerous species of wildlife, the park is home to approximately 200 of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas that live on the slopes of the Virunga volcano ranger which includes active Nyiragongo volcano and the largest lava lake in the world.
Despite this, the forests, amazing animals of the park, and even the rangers are in a desperate fight for their survival. The park has suffered through wars, militia attacks, extreme poaching, and a constant struggle to stay alive through human and environmental pressures on the park, and lack of funding. Mountain gorillas, elephants, hippo, and other wildlife have been killed for food, money, and politics. The hippo population dropped from 25,000, the largest concentration in the world, to about 1200. Serious anti-poaching measures are necessary to protect the wildlife of the park.
Through all this, the dedication of the rangers and staff has cost many lives. Although conditions are improving and the park has seen a massive resurgence in the last 3 years, rangers continue to be killed in random and planned attacks, and their wives and children left behind with little support.
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