Manama, Bahrain – A benefits concert taking place today at the World Heritage Committee meeting pays tribute to park rangers who were brutally killed while protecting Virunga National Park. It marks the launch of a crowdfunding campaign – #HelpVirunga – to support the families of fallen rangers, with donations going towards the Fallen Rangers Fund.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) together with UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre today raised concerns over the multiple severe threats to Virunga National Park – Africa’s oldest park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These include security issues due to the presence of armed groups in the park, which are illegally exploiting natural resources and are putting the lives of park staff at risk.
“These despicable crimes rob Virunga National Park of its precious biodiversity and claim the lives of those on the frontline of conservation,” says Peter Shadie, IUCN Senior Adviser for World Heritage. “Virunga’s rangers make the greatest sacrifice of all – to protect the irreplaceable values of this exceptional site at the risk of their own lives – and today we honour their courage and dedication. Our condolences go to the families who mourn them.”
The past year has been one of the bloodiest in the history of the park, with 12 people including 11 guards and a driver losing their lives to armed assailants. The latest known attack took place on 13 May 2018 and targeted a ranger’s car carrying tourists, who were kidnapped and released two days later. One guard died of her injuries.
Following these incidents, the park has been closed to visitors as a security precaution, which will affect revenues generated by tourism. Following the advice of IUCN and the World Heritage Centre, the World Heritage Committee called on the international community to support the park financially.
Proceedings of the concert and donations will go towards the Fallen Rangers Fund, which provides financial support to the widows and children of Virunga rangers killed in the line of duty.
Make a contribution now. Even small donations make a big difference.
The crowdfunding campaign and concert “a Night for Virunga” are organized by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, in coordination with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). More info here.
UNESCO’s 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee is taking place in Manama, Bahrain from 24 June to 4 July. IUCN is the advisory body on nature to the Committee and this year has provided recommendations on 58 sites facing threats. Follow IUCN at #42WHC on www.iucn.org/42whc.