News24

DRC troops killed for poaching

2010-06-22 07:59

Kinshasa - National park rangers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) killed two soldiers after the troops killed an elephant at a protected site, one of the rangers told AFP on Monday.

The rangers "killed immediately" the soldiers from the 18th Brigade of the DRC army in the clash on Sunday in Virunga National Park in eastern DRC, one of the rangers said on condition of anonymity.

"One of us was injured," the ranger added.

A local group, Innovation for the Development and Protection of the Environment, said the incident happened 2km from the park's Rwindi bridge.

According to IDPE, soldiers killed 12 elephants in the area in May and have armed young people to encourage poaching on the site.

Set up in 1925, the Virunga National Park is classed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco and it is the oldest game reserve in Africa.

It is home notably to 200 mountain gorillas and a small population of plains gorillas, a species strongly faced with the threat of extinction.

But the park, on the north-eastern border with Uganda, is a base not only to army units but to warring militia groups and rebel forces, all of whom kill animals for food and chop down trees for charcoal to burn.