A Talk on the Wild Side.
|Virunga is best known for its mountain gorillas. Ranging in two island habitats separated by 25 km of agricultural land, this species has rebounded from the brink of extinction and represents the biggest conservation success story for great apes in Africa. In the late 1980s, only a few hundred mountain gorillas remained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda. Today, thanks to intensive conservation support from USFWS and others, the mountain gorilla population has increased to over 1,000. In 2018, in recognition of their increasing numbers, mountain gorillas were reclassified from critically endangered to endangered. Mountain gorillas are the only African great apes that are increasing, not decreasing, in number. Photo by Dirck Byler/USFWS|
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joins the global conservation community in mourning the 17 lives lost in the recent tragic attack on community members, park rangers, and staff of the Virunga National Park. Virunga’s devoted rangers are the courageous stewards of what has been a success story for the rebounding mountain gorilla population. In the face of extreme challenges, the park rangers not only defend the wildlife of one of Africa’s most biodiverse landscapes, but also protect the communities of which they themselves are a part. Our thoughts are with their colleagues, friends, and the families they leave behind. Since 2011, Virunga has undertaken a tremendous effort to support the widows and families of rangers killed in the line of duty. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is humbled to have been one of the original supporters of its Fallen Ranger Fund, which honors the legacy of these fallen heroes and provides essential assistance for their loved ones.
We extend our deepest condolences to the Virunga community.
Aurelia Skipwith, Director, and the staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service