IUCN is shocked by the attack recently carried out by elephant poachers in Garamba National Park, which killed three rangers and injured another two, including the park’s manager Erik Mararv.
“We are deeply saddened by this news. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the brave rangers who were brutally killed, and wish Erik Mararv and Dieudonné Kanisa Adrupiako a full recovery,” says IUCN Director General Inger Andersen. “Rangers are on the frontline of conservation, but no one should have to risk their lives to protect the nature we all benefit from, such as this exceptional park which is part of our collective heritage.”
Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage sites, listed in 1980. Its diverse mix of habitats hosts iconic and endangered animal species, such as the Congo Giraffe and one of the largest populations of elephants in Central Africa. The last individual northern white rhino in the park was observed in 2006, and it is now considered extinct in the wild.
For decades now, the park has been on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to armed conflict and elephant poaching, which has drastically increased in the past two years. The elephant death toll in Garamba National Park has risen to 43 so far in 2016 alone. Today about 1,500 elephants remain in the park, compared to 22,000 40 years ago.
In 2015, attacks by heavily-armed poachers claimed at least 19 lives in the World Heritage sites of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including eight in Garamba. African Parks, the organisation managing Garamba National Park, described the recent surge in poaching there as “ground zero in the elephant poaching crisis.”
“These brutal attacks are horrific,” says Inger Andersen. “The illegal wildlife trade driving this poaching not only depletes our world of iconic and irreplaceable species; it also puts the lives of brave defenders of nature at risk, with devastating impacts on their families. We express our solidarity with all those involved in conservation work on the ground.”