The Duke of Cambridge has lent his voice to the tragic attack on a group of park rangers in the DRC, which left six dead.
“The horrendous attack on staff at the Virunga National Park is abhorrent and I condemn the actions of those responsible in the strongest terms,” he said.
The rangers were killed in an ambush on 10 January, believed to be by a group of armed Hutu guerrillas. Virunga National Park is the oldest game park in Africa and a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas.
The militiamen infiltrated the area after fleeing Rwanda when their genocidal Hutu regime was overthrown. They are known for attacking rangers and in April last year, a dozen men from the Congo Institute of Nature Conservation (ICCN) were apparently killed by them.
Expressing his outrage, William added the rangers should be “honoured not attacked”, saying they “work tirelessly to protect both the national park and the neighbouring communities . . . and should never find themselves in a position where their lives are on the line”.
The 38-year-old royal is a fervent environmentalist who supports many causes and is president of United for Wildlife. He’s also particularly passionate about wildlife in Africa, which he’s visited many times.
Park director Emmanuel de Merode, who was himself shot and injured in 2014, said his team were unbowed, despite the dangers.
“We are facing a situation that is extremely difficult, but which in no way erodes the conviction of all ICCN staff to continue our efforts,” he said.
In 2018, after a spate of violent attacks, the park, which sits on the forest-covered volcanoes of central Africa, was shut to tourists but reopened after a thorough review of security precautions.
Sources: dailymail.co.uk, theguardian.com, yahoo.com