|Virunga rangers bury one of their own. Photo by Virunga.org
Last week marked an inspiring moment in conservation history, as the world’s attention focused on New York’s Times Square. There, surrounded by conservation partners from around the world and representatives of several governments, we crushed nearly all seized illegal ivory left in our possession after the first United States ivory crush in 2013.
If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to watch the video we’ve put together of this incredible event, which shined a global spotlight on the plight of Africa’s elephants – and the deep connection of the United States and its consumers to the illegal wildlife trade.
I couldn’t be prouder to have been part of this moment, but there is so much more we need to do.
Because the carnage continues.
Even as we took a giant step forward in New York, terrible news was filtering out of Africa. In Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a park ranger and two members of the Congolese armed forces were murdered by poachers just last week. A second ranger was injured in the incident. These three honorable men killed in the line of duty leave behind three wives and 12 children among them.
And in the DRC’s Virunga National Park, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla, two more rangers and 15 soldiers were killed last week in an ambush by two insurgent groups known to engage in poaching to support their activities. One, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), contains remaining members of Rwanda’s Hutu paramilitary forces who carried out the genocide of hundreds of thousands of their Tutsi countrymen in 1994.