Virunga Movie – one of the documentaries that opened my eyes, made me aware what happens in Africa every day. Amazing nature, forests, animals, people they suffer, die every day because of greed, and system of values which we created. Civil wars manipulated by foreign companies, ambushes, murdering rangers of national parks, murdering gorillas – all that happens for money. So the next time you want to invest your money, you will want to earn, think who you support and what kind of initiatives you support.
Official movie website: https://virungamovie.com/
An article about Virunga Park:
“A Belgian Prince, Gorillas, Guerrillas & the Future of the Congo
Nina Strochlic Updated Jul. 12, 2017 6:53PM ET / Published Nov. 06, 2014 5:45AM ET
VIRUNGA, Congo — On April 15, Prince Emmanuel de Merode’s hulking Land Rover kicked up clouds of dust as he navigated it past the skeletal grey buildings of Goma, a provincial capital in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and on to the bumpy road that would take him to Virunga National Park, his home.
It was already nearing 4 p.m. and he imagined the rest of his day would be spent quietly at the park headquarters, a mountaintop cluster of aging colonial buildings. From there, the 44-year-old Belgian prince commanded hundreds of heavily armed rangers, oversaw a handful of villages, andmade it his mission to protect the most diverse selection of wildlife on the continent. He was the only foreigner in such a powerful government position in the Congo.
De Merode took this 90-minute drive into town frequently, and though it wasn’t considered safe, he preferred to do it alone, so as to not endanger his park rangers. As the warden of Africa’s oldest and most volatile national park, de Merode had no illusions about the risks involved, and his work was growing more perilous all the time. He kept an AK-47 assault rifle next to him in the car.
However, at that moment, he was feeling particularly optimistic about Virunga’s future—his long-term plans to transform the park from a breeding ground for corruption and violence to the Congo’s most viable hope for stability had just been officially unveiled.
Halfway to the park, the hustle of Goma and outlying villages faded behind him. Without traffic or houses, a vast green landscape splayed out: hills of wild grass rolled into distant mountain peaks obscured by a haze of volcanic smoke. The view seemed to stretch straight into the heart of Virunga, where elephants pulled leaves from trees in grassy savannas; chimpanzees raced through thick jungle; families of mountain gorillas chomped bamboo stalks; and a serene lake bustled with fishing villages.
Here, only the twisting grey concrete under his tires disturbed the desolate wild. Then he pulled the wheels of his car around a curve and was greeted by three gunmen, positioned on both sides of the road, waiting for him.
For two decades, Virunga was the epicenter of eastern Congo’s wars. Exploitation of the park’s resources had fueled nearly every rebellion, and though a relative peace dawned on the region in the past year, militias continued to ravage communities and wildlife in the mountains, forests, and savannas. De Merode saw many of Virunga’s defenders fall to the park’s foes, and attended 22 funerals for his rangers killed in the line of duty. In the past 20 years, 140 had died.
After six years at Virunga’s helm, de Merode’s list of enemies was lacking in neither length nor power. The war he was waging to protect a two-million-acre swath of wilderness pit him against poachers, guerrilla fighters, and unsavory entrepreneurs. But so far he’d had significant success, twice negotiating access to the park with occupying rebel groups; nursing back decimated populations of endangered gorillas, hippos, and elephants; bringing much-needed electricity to nearby communities; and—crucially—convincing the international community to care about a godforsaken park in a godforsaken corner of the world.
Recent weeks had been especially promising for de Merode. Ten days earlier, he watched international donors and government officials convene at the governor’s lakefront home for the most ambitious announcement in the park’s history. He had summoned a consortium of well-connected partners, including the European Union and Howard G. Buffett Foundation, to sign on to a new venture called the Virunga Alliance. This 12-year, multi-million dollar effort promised thousands of jobs, infrastructure construction, tourism revenue, and energy production—it was most likely the largest development commitment in the whole of the Congo.
If de Merode’s vision panned out, it would be more than a personal victory in a long career of wartime conservation work: it would lay the foundation for a peaceful Congo, a country long written off as being beyond repair.
But on April 15, all that, for him, almost came to an end.
The low crunch of packed dirt against rubber tire was overwhelmed by the ragged explosions of automatic gunfire. Four bullets pierced de Merode’s windshield and four more hit the truck’s body. The Land Rover’s engine died.
De Merode slipped from his seat and dove toward the roadside and into the forest. More shots echoed and two bullets hit him, one in the stomach and one in the chest. He ran deep into the foliage. Unsure whether his assailants were following him, he turned around and fired back with his AK-47. For 30 minutes he stayed hunkered down in the brush, but was bleeding badly and knew he didn’t have much time.
When de Merode heard the sound of an approaching car he emerged from hiding and tried to wave it down. The driver continued on. He returned to the forest until two farmers on motorcycles heading to market saw him. They threw off their bags of crops and strapped him to the back. He wished he could contact his wife, paleontologist Louise Leakey, in Kenya, so she wouldn’t hear about the attack from someone else.
The farmers carried de Merode until they spotted a military vehicle, and the soldiers stopped and loaded him in. But the car ran out of gas, and de Merode had to fish out $20 for it to refuel. A few minutes later, it broke down completely. After 15 minutes, another army car passed and he was transferred again. Finally, a park vehicle met them and took him to Goma’s best-equipped hospital. He called his wife.
In the operating room, as de Merode underwent emergency surgery, Congolese and United Nations soldiers sealed the facility so there would be no further attempt on his life. After four days he was airlifted to Nairobi and to his family.
To get to Virunga from abroad, you must first fly into neighboring Rwanda, drive three hours along winding mountain roads to the border of the Congo, cross your fingers as finicky agents peruse passports and visas, and then walk under the welcome signs and directly into the sprawling shantytown-turned-capital city of Goma. ….”