Our Invisible Children team grieves the loss of three park rangers in Garamba National Park who were killed this weekend in clash with armed poachers. Our hearts go out to the families of these fallen rangers, and to our colleagues at African Parks who continue to courageously protect some of our world’s most endangered and beautiful wildlife.
Over the weekend, rangers working to protect Garamba National Park clashed with heavily armed poachers, believed to be Sudanese. According to a press statement (below) from the CEO of African Parks, the organization that manages the park, three park rangers, Richard Sungudikpio Ndingba, Rigobert Anigobe Bagale, and Dieudonné Tsago Matikuli were killed in the clash and two others were severely injured, including the park’s manager, Erik Mararv. We are heartbroken over this loss of life and the ongoing violence that continues to threaten both human and wildlife in central Africa.
In recent years, our Invisible Children team has had the privilege of working in increasing collaboration with the extraordinary individuals at African Parks. With Joseph Kony continuing to rely on elephant poaching and ivory trafficking to fuel his violence, and with Invisible Children’s Early Warning Network increasingly helping to expose the activity of other armed group in the area, including poachers, the relationship between human security and wildlife protection has become undeniable. With this in mind, our team has been encouraged and inspired to work alongside our friends at African Parks to promote the safety and protection of all life in central Africa that is under threat of violence and exploitation.
Our lnvisible Children leadership team was able to visit Garamba National Park just a couple of weeks ago, where were learned even more about the incredible work African Parks is doing to turn the tide in Garamba and slow down the very alarming onslaught of poaching. We also had the chance to meet some of the park’s brave and dedicated rangers.
We send our deepest condolences and our most sincere thanks to our brave friends at African Parks. It is an honor to work alongside them toward a safer, more peaceful, and thriving future for the people and the wildlife of DR Congo.
Read this press release from African Parks, released yesterday, to learn more about what happened.
THREE KILLED AND TWO WOUNDED BY ELEPHANT POACHERS IN GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK, DRC
April 24th, 2016
Five members from African Parks, including four rangers and the Park Manager, sustained injuries in a shootout with elephant poachers yesterday on April 23rd, 2016 in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
It is with sincere regret that we inform you that three of the Rangers, Richard Sungudikpio Ndingba, Rigobert Anigobe Bagale, and Dieudonné Tsago Matikuli have since died. Ranger Dieudonné Kanisa Adrupiako and Park Manager Erik Mararv who both sustained gunshot wounds are now in stable condition.
Besides Dieudonné Tsago Matikuli whose body was recovered this morning, the other three Rangers and the Park Manager were evacuated by AFRICOM yesterday and flown to a US military base in Nzara, South Sudan. Two of the three Rangers were in critical condition and were stabilized prior to being transferred to a UN military hospital in Bria, Central African Republic (CAR). Tragically however, Rigobert Anigobe Bagale and Richard Sungudikpio Ndingba died there today.
“We are devastated by this latest loss. Rangers put their lives on the line each and every day, and are under real siege in Garamba protecting elephants from heavily incentivized and militarized poaching gangs who threaten the very survival of humans and wildlife alike” said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks. “Our heartfelt condolences are with the surviving family members of the rangers we have lost. We are extremely grateful to the support we have received from AFRICOM who provided for the timely evacuations and for the assistance of SANGARIS in CAR. We are doing everything possible to provide for all these men and their families during this very difficult time.”
African Parks is fortunate to have in place a Personal Accident Policy that in the event of death or an accident covers that employee and their family members in the amount of six times their annual salary, in addition to any funds raised through campaigns and generous donors.
Elephants numbered around 22,000 in the late 1970’s but today a fraction of their population remains. This is ground zero in the elephant poaching crisis, where elephants are slaughtered for their ivory tusks to be sold illegally by local and regional criminal networks. In 2015, Garamba tragically lost five ICCN guards and three members of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) who were killed by heavily-armed elephant poachers in three separate incidents.
African Parks has been managing Garamba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since 2005 in partnership with the Institut Congolais pour La Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), the DRC’s official wildlife authority. The park, which is 4,900km2 and is part of the larger Garamba Complex of 12,500km2, is the last stronghold for elephants and giraffe in all of Congo.
About African Parks: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks manages 10 national parks and protected areas in seven countries covering six million hectares: Malawi, Zambia, CAR, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Chad.