Virunga fund following the April 24th 2020 Virunga rangers attack
Virunga fund following the April 24th 2020 Virunga rangers attack: The Virunga national park of DRCongo is one of the mountain gorilla homes in the whole world. There are only three countries with these endangered species thus the major reason for the large numbers of people flocking the country through Goma to have their once in a lifetime experience. The Virunga national park that covers an area of about 7,800 square kilometers is located in an area that has previously been occupied by rebel groups thus the insecurity concerns. After the reopening of the park in Feb 2019 after a closure for about a year, the new management came up with a full time security convoy to ensure safety of the guests of the park from the check in up to the checkout time at the Grande Barrier border building. All the tours headed to the park start from that border as the Virunga tourism office is located right across the passport control.
The security convoy has been successful in ensuring the security of the guests up until the park was recently closed as a measure to curb the spread of the corona virus that grasped the world in December 2019. The COVID-19 world pandemic saw the close of most businesses as social distancing had to be met to limit the spread of the virus. The gorillas would be put at a risk if the visits were still acceptable thus the closure of gorilla tourism in the Virunga National Park in March 2020. The park was earlier scheduled to reopen on the 1st of June if the situation gets better. During this break, the park continued with its works to build another fine accommodation the “Ngila lodge” that was to be ready for guests when they reopen but on the fateful day of April 24th 2020, 12 Virunga rangers along with 5 nationals that had selflessly protected the park and its resources were caught in a crossfire with the Rwandan active and armed rebel group and lost their lives. The victims besides the rangers were four civilians and one ICCN driver. There were also 4 others that managed to escape but injured in this conflict. They were caught in this crossfire as they tried to rescue a civilian vehicle that was being attacked by the assailants. This has not been the only attack in the area but has been the latest and has seen a few personalities come out to lend the park a financial hand.
Leonardo DiCaprio came out to launch a campaign to support Africa’s oldest natural reserve following this previous attack. He, under his owned group, Earth Alliance contributed a portion of 2 million USD that is approximately 1.65 million euros. The Earth Alliance is a new organization that puts the need to protect the earth’s nature out there. Leonardo DiCaprio along with his co-founder Emerson Collective chose to support the Virunga park in these tough times as Leonardo said in a statement how privileged he was to have met a part of the courageous Virunga team in 2013. He also cited on how the park needs funds to protect the endangered mountain gorillas along with the stakeholders like the park rangers and authorities as well as the families of the fallen rangers that have lost their lives in the line of duty especially in such times where the park is closed.
On the 18th of May 2020, the Virunga national park launched the Virunga fund that calls upon the interested parties to give in what they can to support the park stand on its feet and be ready to welcome the guests when it reopens.
This fund looks at funding the already grappling park for more than the said 2 months that the park director Emmanuel de Merode had estimated for the park to be able to sustain itself following the COVID-19 pandemic along with the impact of the Ebola disease in the surrounding areas. The Virunga fund should be able to take the park a long way if the interested parties could come through. All the donations collected from the well-wishers will go to the Virunga rangers and the day to day running of the park to ensure efficient running of the park.
This fund calls upon any capable person and every dollar counts to make a difference and a few examples of the things you can donate to include;
A pair of new boots for a ranger that goes for 8 USD, you may opt to provide funds to a ranger for a day which is estimated at 32 USD and is inclusive of family health insurance. There is also an option for a one month of support donation to the widows and the children of the fallen rangers. You can go higher and send out a donation of 150 USD that is inclusive of food and supplements for two weeks for an orphaned gorilla, 500USD for one anti-poaching surveillance flight with an aim to monitor and protect the elephants and hippos in the Lulimbi sector, or send a 1,000 USD donation for a comprehensive sweep and removal of deadly snares in the mountain gorilla sector that are usually left by the poachers and harm the gorillas.
To donate, there are several options you can choose like for bank transfers you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org and US residents can make their donations through Virunga Friends Fund at CAF America while UK residents can send in their donations through Virgin Money Giving. Belgian residents have an option to make their donations directly through this bank account KBC BRUSSELS Account number BE79736033442533. All donations qualify to be exempted from tax, considered Gift Aid so check while you attempt to make your donation whichever way is more favourable for you.
When this is all over and the world is back on its feet, the Virunga National park will be waiting to receive you and will forever be indebted to your support rendered during these hard times. We look forward to hosting you soon but for now, stay home and stay safe.