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Interview: Perils and Rewards
Of Protecting Congo’s Gorillas

It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous place to be a wildlife conservationist than the Democratic Republic of Congo, which for decades has been ravaged by war and civil strife that has left several
Emmanuel de Merode
Virunga National Park/gorillacd.org
Emmanuel de Merode
million people dead. But it is against this backdrop that Emmanuel de Merode has waged a five-year struggle to protect Congo’s Virunga National Park, the oldest national park in Africa and home to one of the last sizeable populations of mountain gorillas. De Merode is the chief warden of Virunga, a UNESCO World Heritage site that encompasses nearly 2 million acres of forests, mountains, savannahs, and iconic fauna. Since 1996, more than 150 Virunga park rangers have been killed in the line of duty, with two murdered last October. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, de Merode discusses the challenges of protecting the mountain gorillas in a war-torn nation, the remarkable survival of the gorillas amid this strife, and how restoring order inside Virunga National Park could play a role in bringing peace to Congo.
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