Virunga National Park fallen ranger
Virunga National Park fallen ranger: On the 10th of October 2020, Virunga national park yet again received some bad news. A park ranger known as Bagurubumwe Chuhoze Deogene was announced dead after an attack that happened at the Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) patrol post that is located at the borer of Sarambwe. Deogene was on the line of duty when this happened costing him his life. This attack basing on the word of a few local sources claims that the FDLR-RUD armed rebels group is to blame for this attack following the past raids and loots on the local community that stays around the patrol post. This rebel group had been traumatizing the people of the area a few moments before the attack.
The fallen ranger of Virunga Deogene was 47 years of age at the time of his untimely death while on service. He was the head of section and had been working with Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) for 24 years since the year 1996. He left behind a family of 4 members that is a wife and 3 children.
The Virunga national park has a fallen rangers fund that supports families that is the widow and the biological children of the victims of conflict who worked as rangers in the Virunga park Congo. The rangers of Virunga national park carry out a big role in the success of the park and this fund is one of the least things the park can do to give back to them. This Virunga fallen rangers fund was started in 2007 where the park saw need for it. Since the park was established in 1925, more than 200 ranger guides had lost their lives in the line of duty protecting Africa’s oldest national park as well as the people of the communities living around the park.
Ranger guides are the front line soldiers that ensure conservation is observed in the park, set out to catch the poachers, monitor and protect the mountain gorillas and all the life in the Virunga national park and also protect and provide information to the visitors who come to the park. They tirelessly and committedly work and are the reason the work on ground is successful. Before the Virunga ranger fund was introduced, the widows of the fallen rangers who were the bread winners struggled financially to make ends meet but after 2007, there was some relief as the Virunga national park set out to look for all the wives of the 200 plus dating up to those back in 1991 which was the year the regional conflict began.
The Virunga fund
The Virunga fund works in a way that in any case of a tragic loss of a Virunga ranger, a private fund is immediately set up for the widow starting with a collective effort from the community and all donations received toward the Virunga fund that time are given to the widow of the fallen ranger. Also for six months from the day of death, the widow will be given the ranger’s full salary then after the six months, the park will the widow a pension to help them adjust to the new situation.
The widow and biological children of the Virunga fallen ranger are also entitled to free medical care and schooling provided at the facilities of the Virunga national park. On top of the financial support given to the families, the Virunga national park of Congo make sure that the young widows are given opportunities to grow their personal skills from the work based training at the different departments at the park.
There are a few schemes at the park that the widows may engage in for example the park has an electrical engineering scheme that has already registered a graduate now working with the Virunga energies which supplies sustainably produced power to different points of the region. There is also a chocolate factory known as the Virunga origins chocolate factory that currently has four women training to be chocolatiers while two others are already equipped with the skills of marketing the end products of the chocolate factory. There is also a lady currently studying to be a pastry chef while two other ladies are eyeing to venture into the world of gastronomy so we can say the Virunga fund for fallen rangers has become a big success over the years.
The Virunga national park currently has over 689 male and female active rangers enforcing the conservation and protection of the park’s resources as well as the local communities serving all the four sectors of the Virunga national park that is the north, south, central and lake sector. The team currently on ground is the best as the all undergo scrutiny and extensive training before they are recruited to protect the park. All the rangers of the Virunga national park are picked out from the local Congolese towns and villages which is the major qualification to be a civil servant of the Congolese national park authority- ICCN.