RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Scenes of part of the Southern sector of Virunga National Park, photographed at CNDP rebel controlled Rumangabo, the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, D.R.C, 24 November 2008. The ICCN Congolese Conservation Rangers were displaced into Internally Displaced Peoples camps after renewed fighting in the region at the beginning of October. Their base at Rumangabo had to be quickly evacuated and after the Rangers flight it was subsequently looted by various forces and civilian elements. Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless Director of Virunga National Park, has negotiated a fragile deal for ICCN's return to the Park. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Images of the Volcano sector as seen from ICCN Congolese Conservation Ranger headquarters in Virunga National Park, DRC, 9 March 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

Kibumba, Virunga National Park, DRC, 13 March 2008: A view of some of the Volcanoes as one enters Virunga National Park from the Goma side.

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The destroyed remains of the Rwindi hotel, once a popular resort in this part of Virunga National Park, now a shell tacked on the ICCN conservation Ranger camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. The hotel was last open in 1992 and ICCN officials hope to one day see it restored to its former glory days. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The destroyed remains of the Rwindi hotel, once a popular resort in this part of Virunga National Park, now a shell tacked on the ICCN conservation Ranger camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. The hotel was last open in 1992 and ICCN officials hope to one day see it restored to its former glory days. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The destroyed remains of the Rwindi hotel, once a popular resort in this part of Virunga National Park, now a shell tacked on the ICCN conservation Ranger camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. The hotel was last open in 1992 and ICCN officials hope to one day see it restored to its former glory days. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: ICCN Director of Virunga National Park Emmanuel De Merode photographed at Rumangabo Ranger Headquarters, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo on 24 November 2008. De Merode is a tireless and courageous advocate of conservation in the DRC and has been working in the Congo since 1992. De Merode is also a Prince of Belgium and is a direct descendant of Felix De Merode who led the Belguim rebellion of 1830. After a succesful campaign Felix decline the title of King of Belguim and Leopold the 1st came to power in Belguim. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: ICCN Ranger Theodor Nereye, 45, washes at the end of the day back in the Gorilla sector at Bukima for the first time in 15 months of fighting and uncertainty, 25 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: Daily scenes at Kibati ICCN Rangers station. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Rangers on patrol in the Lulimbi region of Virunga National Park, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A ranger looks out the park from a watchtower at ICCN Congolese Conservation Ranger headquarters in Virunga National Park, DRC, 9 March 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The Rugendo family of moutain gorillas, with a new 7 month old baby and a new Silverback leader called Bukima,Virunga National Park, DRC, March 4th 2012. In July 2007, 7 members of the Rugendo group were slaugheted by automatic weapons fire, including a pregnant female and an infant. The attack was a warning to conservation authorities to back off the illegal activities of a charcoal cabal using Virunga's hardwood to create an illegal multi-million dollar coal fuel industry. The attack was suppose to intimidate the Rangers into backing off but had the opposite effect. The perpetrators of the massacre were eventually caught, leading all the way to the fall of the Warden of the Southern Section of Virunga. The Park authorities changed and the Gorillas, despite a civil war raging all around them and the occupation of the Gorilla sector by a rebel army, have continued to thrive ever since. There are only around 700 mountains gorillas in the world and their DNA is second only to Chimpanzees as closest to man. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first sighting of new Mountain Gorilla babies in the family of Kabirizi, 25 November 2008. There appear to be at least 5 new births in the family. This is the first sighting of Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park by ICCN Congolese Conservation Authority rangers in over 15 months. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

TSHIABIRIMU, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTHERN SECTOR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - 4 MARCH 2008: Scenes from a patrol at the Tshabarimu ICCN post. The men are seen making their way up the mountain towards the gorilla sector. This outpost has seen a lot of fighting between different militia groups over the years and only last year 3 people were shot in an unexplained attack on the lower post. A member of WWF was killed and an employee of "The Gorillas Organisation" was shot in the leg and a student was wounded. Local politicans have used the park, promising land there to local populations if elected. This has caused tension between rangers and the local population. It is the only place other than the southern Mikeno sector, currently under rebel CNDP occupation, where it is possible to see gorillas in the DRC. These are currently classified as Eastern Lowland Gorillas. That said, there is some dispute as to the genetic profile of these gorillas, they resemble mountain gorillas in every way except size, being smaller than the traditional mountain gorilla. Genetic studies thus far point out that these gorillas are closest to Lowland gorillas but studies are ongoing. There are only 20 in total, isolated on the top of Mount Tshiarimu, cut off by human population groups from any other gorilla contact. They are the most northerly occuring of the Lowland gorillas and this may help to explain their similarity to mountain gorillas. This may in fact be the rarest of all gorillas groups if it is determined they are their own sub-species. I was able to briefly shoot a silverback from the Kipura family, a family of six, before the rain completely closed in. The name of the silverback is Tsongo, which means 2nd boy of the family in the local language. The gorillas are located 3 and a half hours from the camp, over a series of mountain tops and in a valley at the time of shooting. The largest family is the Kipura family of which there are 6 members. The mountain area where they ar

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The Rugendo family of moutain gorillas, with a new 7 month old baby and a new Silverback leader called Bukima,Virunga National Park, DRC, March 4th 2012. In July 2007, 7 members of the Rugendo group were slaugheted by automatic weapons fire, including a pregnant female and an infant. The attack was a warning to conservation authorities to back off the illegal activities of a charcoal cabal using Virunga's hardwood to create an illegal multi-million dollar coal fuel industry. The attack was suppose to intimidate the Rangers into backing off but had the opposite effect. The perpetrators of the massacre were eventually caught, leading all the way to the fall of the Warden of the Southern Section of Virunga. The Park authorities changed and the Gorillas, despite a civil war raging all around them and the occupation of the Gorilla sector by a rebel army, have continued to thrive ever since. There are only around 700 mountains gorillas in the world and their DNA is second only to Chimpanzees as closest to man. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first sighting of Mountain Gorilla by Congolese Conservation Authorities in over 15 months, 25 November 2008. There appear to be at least 5 new births in the Kabirizi family. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Andre, 39, a self described "gorilla mother" looks after 4 orphaned gorillas who were rescued from various horrific circumstances and brought into care by the staff of Virunga National Park, DRC, 2 March 2012. Andre thinks of these gorillas as his own children and even describes bringing his children to see them as showing them their brothers and sisters. Andre lives with the Gorillas 24/7 with the exception of a few days off to visit his own family. Andre is an ICCN Congolese Conservation ranger and has cared for orphaned and rescued gorillas since 2003. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The families of ICCN conservation Rangers in their bleak homes at the ICCN conservation camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as C.N.D.P, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The families of ICCN conservation Rangers in their bleak homes at the ICCN conservation camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as C.N.D.P, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO- 2 March 2008: Scenes from ICCN Ranger post at Ishango. The Rangers are seen cleaning weapons at the end of a patrol and then using the pull-up bars at the camp for a fun fitness test where they teased each other about how bad they were on the pullup bars.(Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: A combined ICCN conservation Ranger force and FARDC Congolese Army soldiers patrol both the road and inland in the Virunga National Park at Rwindi, DRC, March 8 2012. This reconnaisance patrol was conducted because of an FDLR rebel hijacking which occured on the road 2 days earlier but protecting the civilians who travel on the road through the park is now the mandate of the Rangers, a job which saw 9 Rangers killed last year. The Ranger camp has been attacked by in recent times by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: A combined ICCN conservation Ranger force and FARDC Congolese Army soldiers patrol both the road and inland in the Virunga National Park at Rwindi, DRC, March 8 2012. This reconnaisance patrol was conducted because of an FDLR rebel hijacking which occured on the road 2 days earlier but protecting the civilians who travel on the road through the park is now the mandate of the Rangers, a job which saw 9 Rangers killed last year. The Ranger camp has been attacked by in recent times by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

KIBUMBA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - 13 MARCH 2008: Robert Muir, 30, lone white guy, of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, accompanies a patrol of Advanced Force ICCN Rangers, reinforced by a few members of the FARDC Congolese Army and Military Police into FDLR Interhamwe Hutu rebel territory in an occupied sector of Virunga National Park. The Patrol is one of the first into this territory in many years and was designed as an initial on the ground assesment of the damage done to the forest by the illegal charcoal industry and illegal wood cutting. The FDLR have occupied this area since 1995 and the damage is extensive. This patrol was only into an area of light damage, not to the heart of the Charcoal production. The Patrol initially arrived with a UN peacekeeper support element but FDLR then refused them access to the Park. The FDLR then said that they were targetting the vehicles and we had to pull back immediately. After some negotiations the UN departed leaving the Ranger Force. I was then accused of being a spy for Rwanda whereupon myself and Robert went into the park and I explained my purpose. The FDLR then demanded an access feel of $200 of which we paid $120, all the money we had on us. I was then allowed to photograph. Upon entry into the Park we were met by 3 members of FDLR, led by Captain Murokore, who is the leader of the reputed Battalion of FDLR soldiers in the area. There are an estimated 8000 highly trained FDLR fighters in Virunga today. Despite repeated efforts to defeat them and get them out of the DRC, they are talented and experienced bushfighters who remain at large. Robert Muir has been in the DRC for over 4 years representing the Frankfurt Zoological Society, doing the very difficult job of reinforcing the ICCN parks authority. He has orchestrated training for the elite Advanced Force Rangers and works with Wildlife Direct and The London Zoological Society to ensure they are paid and fed, an uphill struggle. Muir has been inst

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: CNDP rebels, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

BUKAVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - MAY 18: Members of The Forces Du Republic Democratic Du Congolese undergo retraining under the UN Pakistani Soldiers stationed in this troubled region. They are pictured in training for house penetration and hostage rescue. Due to their poor pay, lack of equipment and quality of life, these soldiers are often involved in collaborative efforts with the militias in the area. This has resulted in wide-spread mistrust between the local population and these Congolese army soldiers, increasing the difficulties of peacekeeping in the region. (Photo by Brent Stirton)

KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - MAY 18: Remy Masamba, the Secretary General of the Union Pour La Democratie Et Le Progress Social, one of the main opposition parties to Joseph Kabila's current government. Elections have been postponed in the DRC and this has led to escalating tensions in the war-weary African country. (Photo by Brent Stirton)

BUKAVU, THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-AUGUST 2005: Traumatised civilians who have just escaped from a militia group are encountered by UN peacekeepers. The man has been bound with barbed wire, shot and tortured. The woman carries the body of her dead husband on her back. PHOTO BY BRENT STIRTON/GETTY IMAGES

KIMBUMBA INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE'S CAMP, KIBUMBA, GOMA, DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 19 FEBRUARY 2008: Views of Kibumba Internally Displaced People's Camp. This camp is filled with people displaced by the regional instability of recently conflict. It is now one of the sales area for illegal Charcoal produced in Virunga National Park in rebel FDLR territory. The Charcoal then makes its way to Goma. Goma is a town plaughed by overpopulation as a result of instability in the region as a result of multiple military players. Currently Goma houses some 750 000 people, most of those under the poverty line. The primary energy source for Goma is Charcoal, this huge demand is leading to the decimation of Virunga National Park as hardwoods are destroyed to make charcoal in industrial size ovens in the rebel held sections of the park. The Rwandan Hutu Interhamwe FDLR fighters who have occupied the region since 1995 control much of this along with the Congolese army and major players in the business community in Goma. It is a very difficult task for the ICCN Rangers to fight this huge industry, they are undermanned and ill-equipped to deal with the sheer size of the Charcoal operations. (Photo by Brent Stirton/call 347 386 0429 or Robert Muir at The Frankfurt Zoological Society in Goma DRC, +243 (0) 997251960 or mail at robertmuir@fzs.org.)

LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Rangers investigate the corpse of a recently killed sub-adult male elephant in Lulimbi, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. The elephant has obviously been killed for its ivory, a trend on the rise across the DRC and one which makes the Rangers job very difficult. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Conservation Rangers deploy young bloodhounds for the first time in Virunga to investigate the corpse of a recently killed sub-adult male elephant in Lulimbi, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. The elephant had obviously been killed for its ivory, a trend on the rise across the DRC and one which makes the Rangers job very difficult. The young dogs reacted with horror at the elephant corpse, their noses are estimated to be 3 million times more sensitive than a humans. After initially recoiling, the lead dog Lily, just over a year old, took the scent and followed it for several kilometers in the exact direction of a fishing village on Lake Edward long suspected in poaching cases in Virunga. She was pulled off the trail once Rangers knew where the suspects came from. Undercover intelligence will now be used in the village to seek out the sellers. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Conservation Rangers deploy young bloodhounds for the first time in Virunga to investigate the corpse of a recently killed sub-adult male elephant in Lulimbi, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. The elephant had obviously been killed for its ivory, a trend on the rise across the DRC and one which makes the Rangers job very difficult. The young dogs reacted with horror at the elephant corpse, their noses are estimated to be 3 million times more sensitive than a humans. After initially recoiling, the lead dog Lily, just over a year old, took the scent and followed it for several kilometers in the exact direction of a fishing village on Lake Edward long suspected in poaching cases in Virunga. She was pulled off the trail once Rangers knew where the suspects came from. Undercover intelligence will now be used in the village to seek out the sellers. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba was killed today by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. These pictures depict the dead rangers at the local Red Cross clinic in the village and the body being delivered to the Ishango Ranger Station to be driven to Mutsora Ranger station, the headquarters for the Northern Sector region. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba was killed today by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. These pictures depict the dead rangers at the local Red Cross clinic in the village and the body being delivered to the Ishango Ranger Station to be driven to Mutsora Ranger station, the headquarters for the Northern Sector region. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba was killed today by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. These pictures depict the dead rangers at the local Red Cross clinic in the village and the body being delivered to the Ishango Ranger Station to be driven to Mutsora Ranger station, the headquarters for the Northern Sector region. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

MUTSORA RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-1 MARCH 2008: The funeral of ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba, 36, at Mutsora Ranger Station. He was killed by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. Kalibumba leaves behind a wife and 8 children now without a breadwinner or a father. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

GOMA, DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2008: Scenes photographed at Goma Central Prison on 27 March 2007. The scenes include images from the crowded courtyard and cells as well as images from a prison relegious praise group who are gathered in a cell enthusiastically praying, singing and praising God. The mural on the wall includes the crucifiction scene set against the volcanoes which are a hallmark for Goma. (Photo by Brent Stirton/call 347 386 0429.)

July, 2007, Virunga National Park, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: Emmanuel De Merode, director of conservation group Wildlife Direct, stands with Congolese Conservation Rangers over the body of a murdered female Mountain Gorilla, July 2007 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This female was one of 7 highly endangered mountain gorillas who were mysteriously killed that day in one of the biggest killings of an endangered primate in over 30 years. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.)

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN CONGO, JULY 2007: Conservation Rangers from an Anti-Poaching unit work with locals to evacuate the bodies of four Mountain Gorrillas killed in mysterious circumstances in the park, Virunga National Park, Eastern Congo, 24 July 2007. A Silver-Back Alpha male, the leader of the group was shot, three females were also killed. Two of the females had babies and the other was pregnant. The two babies were not found and it is thought that they will have died of stress and dehydration. The motivation for the killing is not known but it is suspected that there are political motivations. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills. Over 100 Rangers have been killed in their efforts to protect the Gorrillas of Virunga, one of the world's most endangered species. The Congolese Rangers in this particular group are working with Wildlife Direct, a Conservation organisation. The Rangers receive a salary based on donations to Wildlife Direct and perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the world of wildlife conservation. The DRC has the highest toll of human casualties of any country since the second world war, a figure in the region of 4.6 million dead as a result of war and resultant displacement, disease, starvation and ongoing militia violence. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images for Newsweek.)

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN CONGO, JULY 2007: Conservation Rangers from an Anti-Poaching unit work with locals to evacuate the bodies of four Mountain Gorrillas killed in mysterious circumstances in the park, Virunga National Park, Eastern Congo, 24 July 2007. A Silver-Back Alpha male, the leader of the group was shot, three females were also killed. Two of the females had babies and the other was pregnant. The two babies were not found and it is thought that they will have died of stress and dehydration. The motivation for the killing is not known but it is suspected that there are political motivations. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills. Over 100 Rangers have been killed in their efforts to protect the Gorrillas of Virunga, one of the world's most endangered species. The Congolese Rangers in this particular group are working with Wildlife Direct, a Conservation organisation. The Rangers receive a salary based on donations to Wildlife Direct and perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the world of wildlife conservation. The DRC has the highest toll of human casualties of any country since the second world war, a figure in the region of 4.6 million dead as a result of war and resultant displacement, disease, starvation and ongoing militia violence. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images for Newsweek.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The graves of mountain gorillas slain in Virunga National Park at ICCN Congolese Conservation Ranger headquarters in Virunga National Park, DRC, 9 March 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RUMANGABO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN DR CONGO, 16 FEBRUARY 2008: Paulin Ngobobo, Chief Warden of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park. Ngobobo has been persecuted repeatedly for his conservation stance by both Congolese politicans and the Congolese military. Earlier in 2007 he was attempting to work against the illegal charcoal trade which is decimating the local forests. Ngobobo was grabbed by the military and in front of the villagers he was attempting to inform, his shirt was removed and he was given 80 lashes across his back. This is not the first time he has endured this kind of treatment. He was recently arrested and is under investigation by local authorities who are threatened by his conservation stance. It is speculated widely that Ngobobo's clashes with his senior last year are what prompted the killing of six gorillas in July 2007. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills. Over 100 Rangers have been killed in their efforts to protect the Gorrillas of Virunga, one of the world's most endangered species. (Photo by Brent Stirton/ph 1 347 386 0429 or +44 7795 060 715)

GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - MARCH 27: Honore' Mashagiro, an ICCN senior official based in Bukavu, 27 March 2007 photographed in Goma, DRC. Mashagiro is at the center of accusations as to who killed the Virunga gorillas in July 2007. He is the former chief of the southern sector of Virunga National Park and has been involved in a long running battle between himself and Warden Pauline Ngogobo who was his second in command. Ngogobo accuses Mashagiro of involvement in hippo killings for profit, illegal charcoal manufacture and the recent killings of mountain gorillas in Virunga. Mashagiro has accused Ngogobo of the same actions but the number of Mashagiro's accusers is growing. He has recently been arrested and a court process to determine whether or not Mashagiro should stand trial is underway. His accusers hope that it will at least result in him being fired from ICCN, the Congolese conservation authority. Mashagiro pleads innocent to all charges and accuses Ngogobo and his powerful connections of conspiring against him. Mashagiro also has powerful connections and many of those in ICCN leadership positions in Goma have left town for reasons of personal safety. Pauline Ngogobo has been offered bodyguards by the Congolese Army for the duration of time he is in town to testify. (Photo by Brent Stirton.)

KIBATI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-20 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station conduct roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted as of today by members of the Congolese military and military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The rangers job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-20 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station conduct roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted as of today by members of the Congolese military and military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The rangers job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: Daily scenes at Kibati ICCN Rangers station. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: Scenes of the camp site and tired Rangers at midnight at the Kibati ICCN Rangers station. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Rangers conduct a raiding patrol into an area of illegal Charcoal production. They arrested a number of mules, poor people from displaced communities who are being used by the real powers behind Charcoal production in the area. These players include members of the Congolese military, the FDLR Interhamwe rebels and big businessmen in Goma. The ICCN Rangers were shot at by FDLR as they were completing their mission. This is an area known to be under their influence. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Rangers conduct a raiding patrol into an area of illegal Charcoal production. They arrested a number of mules, poor people from displaced communities who are being used by the real powers behind Charcoal production in the area. These players include members of the Congolese military, the FDLR Interhamwe rebels and big businessmen in Goma. The ICCN Rangers were shot at by FDLR as they were completing their mission. This is an area known to be under their influence. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

RUTSHURU, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: A fuel briquette press system being used by people displaced by violence in Eastern Congo to create an alternative to charcoal, Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, February 27, 2012. The Press uses waste paper, garbage, sawdust etc. This is mixed with water and beaten to a pulp, the pulp is then pressed in specially designed tubes under manual pressure. This creates up to 5 blocks at a time which are then dried and used as an alternative to charcoal. This system produces an economy of its own and it acts against illegal charcoal manufacture from hardwoods illegally harvested from Virunga National Park. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

NGUGU, RUGARI, DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 15 FEBRUARY 2008: A section of men from one of General Nkunda's CNDP hilltop bases in the occupied Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park make their way to find gorillas along with CNDP appointed Mikeno Section Warden Kanamahrazi, (wearing a white shirt with green patches and animal designs). The Ranger doing the actual gorilla contact is Shyamba Kayitare. He is one of the ICCN Rangers who remained in the area when CNDP forces took Mikeno in the September 2007. On this trip the CNDP rebels and the warden and rangers had a brief encounter with the Kabrizi family of Gorillas who appeared to have suffered no ill health or loss of life due to the conflict and subsequent occupation of the Park by Nkundas forces. CNDP have opened their own version of ICCN, the Congolese Parks service, and created a split between Rangers who remained in the area after occupation through war and the Rangers who left the area on the instructions of ICCN Kinshasa. CNDP have colluded with and appointed returned Tutsi Warden Kanamaharazi, who claims that he is now the chief warden of Mikeno section, home of the mountain Gorilla population of DRC. Nkunda states that he is all for conservation and says that he believes that Virunga National Park is an important resource for the Congolese people which must be preserved. He invited the return of ICCN with full transparency and a promise of support from his men who are currently occupying the Mikeno sector, the gorilla sector of Virunga. This contradicts the actions of his troops in the area who do not want the former ICCN players to return but rather to be their own conservation force in the area. They do however want the full support of ICCN Kinshasa with salaries and full equipment. It was also discovered that the road into Bukima, a key gorilla area, has purportedly been mined. (Photo by Brent Stirton/call 347 386 0429 or Nkunda's Media liason Mr Amani +250 08201036 or email Kabashaa@yahoo.fr)

GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 16: Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, visits his Congolese Conservation Rangers (ICCN) displaced by recent violence to Bulengo IDP camp on the outskirts of Goma, DRC on 16 November 2008. De Merode is seen speaking with a Ranger who learnt the day before that one of his children had been killed in the violence. The region has been engulfed in recent chaos as a result of General Laurent Nkunda's CNDP rebel army's attacks on the Congolese army (FARDC) and its supporters. The attacks have resulted in a mass exodus of frightened civilians from villages in the region resulting in an ongoing humanitarian crisis. The ICCN rangers had to flee their bases in Virunga National Park and make their way to Goma. Many Rangers have lost everything as a result and now live as internally displaced people in camps alongside other IDPs. The future of Virunga National Park is now uncertain, with rebels occupying the Southern sector and more. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, negotiates with CNDP rebels for the Congolese Conservation Authority's return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, negotiates with CNDP rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda for the Congolese Conservation Authority's return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. General Nkunda agreed to this at the meeting. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, negotiates with CNDP rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda for the Congolese Conservation Authority's return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. General Nkunda agreed to this at the meeting. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The return of 120 courageous ICCN Rangers to CNDP rebel controlled Rumangabo, the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, D.R.C, 24 November 2008. The Rangers were displaced into Internally Displaced Peoples camps after renewed fighting in the region at the beginning of October. Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless Director of Virunga National Park, has negotiated a fragile deal for ICCN's return to the Park. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The return of 120 courageous ICCN Rangers to their looted homes at CNDP rebel controlled Rumangabo, the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, D.R.C, 24 November 2008. The Rangers were displaced into Internally Displaced Peoples camps after renewed fighting in the region at the beginning of October. Their base at Rumangabo had to be quickly evacuated and after the Rangers flight it was subsequently looted by various forces and civilian elements. Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless Director of Virunga National Park, has negotiated a fragile deal for ICCN's return to the Park. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first meeting of ICCN Congolese Conservation Rangers and CNDP rebel leaders at Rumangabo, the ICCN headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, 24 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first sighting of Mountain Gorilla by Congolese Conservation Authorities in over 15 months, North Kivu, DRC, 25 November 2008. There appear to be at least 5 new births in the Kabirizi family. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, makes an emotional return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 25 November 2008. Helmets and clothing from the CNDP Rebels are seen all around Bukima as it is the former front line of the conflict between CNDP and the Congolese Army. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

LAKE EDWARD, VIRUNGA, DRC, 5 JULY 2008: ICCN Rangers talk with fisherman on the banks of Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The Lake supports a community of over 50 000 people and fish is the main protein for the region. A number of important tributaries come off Lake Edward, including some which feed the Nile.

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Rangers patrol Lake Edward and visit the large illegal fishing village of Kyavinyonge. The village was initially supposed to only be a few fisherman on a fixed quota but because of regional conflict many internally displaced people flocked there and the village is now 20 000 and growing. The Rangers have a very difficult job in attempting to have these people respect the park and conservation values. Mai Mai militias and the Congolese army have killed vast numbers of Hippo in this lake and as a result the food chain has been destroyed. The lack of hippo excrement has affected worm production and other small food sources and as a result fish stock has plummeted. The illegal village however continues to grow and there is less and less chance of transplanting these 20 000 people. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Women and children fetch water from a newly contructed tap system built by the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority on the outskirts of Virunga National Park, DRC, 13 March 2012. This facility means the women and children no longer have to walk 6 kilometers to springs higher on the mountain. This has improved productivity, water quality and safety for the women. In addition to this project ICCN has constructed more than 30 schools, water points and hydro-elecric schemes, all part of a concerted effort to building understanding and appreciation for the park in the minds of local communities. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Women and children fetch water from a newly contructed tap system built by the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority on the outskirts of Virunga National Park, DRC, 13 March 2012. This facility means the women and children no longer have to walk 6 kilometers to springs higher on the mountain. This has improved productivity, water quality and safety for the women. In addition to this project ICCN has constructed more than 30 schools, water points and hydro-elecric schemes, all part of a concerted effort to building understanding and appreciation for the park in the minds of local communities. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

MUTWANGA, NORTH KIVU, DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: Kaseraka, 28, a polio victim, sweeps stones away from the main water flow area on a ICCN Virunga Hydro-electric project in Mutwanga, DRC, February 28 2012. Kaseraka is in charge of maintenance for the project and is typical of the disadvantaged community this scheme will benefit. This hydro-electric scheme is the Park's largest community project and will provide electricity to an empoverished community of 25 000 people as well as to schools, a general hospital and an orphanage. The pay off for the park is that the community comes to understand the relationship between healthy forests and healthy water supply as well as vastly improved community relations. Electricity will also be available for industry and that could revolutionise the community, allowing for the retention of the value of Congolese products internally as opposed to constant and expensive imports. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo Magazine.)

MUTWANGA, NORTH KIVU, DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: Kaseraka, 28, a polio victim, sweeps stones away from the main water flow area on a ICCN Virunga Hydro-electric project in Mutwanga, DRC, February 28 2012. Kaseraka is in charge of maintenance for the project and is typical of the disadvantaged community this scheme will benefit. This hydro-electric scheme is the Park's largest community project and will provide electricity to an empoverished community of 25 000 people as well as to schools, a general hospital and an orphanage. The pay off for the park is that the community comes to understand the relationship between healthy forests and healthy water supply as well as vastly improved community relations. Electricity will also be available for industry and that could revolutionise the community, allowing for the retention of the value of Congolese products internally as opposed to constant and expensive imports. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo Magazine.)

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The Rugendo family of moutain gorillas, with a new 7 month old baby and a new Silverback leader called Bukima,Virunga National Park, DRC, March 4th 2012. In July 2007, 7 members of the Rugendo group were slaugheted by automatic weapons fire, including a pregnant female and an infant. The attack was a warning to conservation authorities to back off the illegal activities of a charcoal cabal using Virunga's hardwood to create an illegal multi-million dollar coal fuel industry. The attack was suppose to intimidate the Rangers into backing off but had the opposite effect. The perpetrators of the massacre were eventually caught, leading all the way to the fall of the Warden of the Southern Section of Virunga. The Park authorities changed and the Gorillas, despite a civil war raging all around them and the occupation of the Gorilla sector by a rebel army, have continued to thrive ever since. There are only around 700 mountains gorillas in the world and their DNA is second only to Chimpanzees as closest to man. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

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 RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Scenes of part of the Southern sector of Virunga National Park, photographed at CNDP rebel controlled Rumangabo, the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, D.R.C, 24 November 2008. The ICCN Congolese Conservation Rangers were displaced into Internally Displaced Peoples camps after renewed fighting in the region at the beginning of October. Their base at Rumangabo had to be quickly evacuated and after the Rangers flight it was subsequently looted by various forces and civilian elements. Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless Director of Virunga National Park, has negotiated a fragile deal for ICCN's return to the Park. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Images of the Volcano sector as seen from ICCN Congolese Conservation Ranger headquarters in Virunga National Park, DRC, 9 March 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 Kibumba, Virunga National Park, DRC, 13 March 2008: A view of some of the Volcanoes as one enters Virunga National Park from the Goma side.
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 RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The destroyed remains of the Rwindi hotel, once a popular resort in this part of Virunga National Park, now a shell tacked on the ICCN conservation Ranger camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. The hotel was last open in 1992 and ICCN officials hope to one day see it restored to its former glory days. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army.  Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)
 RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The destroyed remains of the Rwindi hotel, once a popular resort in this part of Virunga National Park, now a shell tacked on the ICCN conservation Ranger camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. The hotel was last open in 1992 and ICCN officials hope to one day see it restored to its former glory days. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army.  Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)
 RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The destroyed remains of the Rwindi hotel, once a popular resort in this part of Virunga National Park, now a shell tacked on the ICCN conservation Ranger camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. The hotel was last open in 1992 and ICCN officials hope to one day see it restored to its former glory days. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army.  Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)
 VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
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 RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: ICCN Director of Virunga National Park Emmanuel De Merode photographed at Rumangabo Ranger Headquarters, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo on 24 November 2008. De Merode is a tireless and courageous advocate of conservation in the DRC and has been working in the Congo since 1992. De Merode is also a Prince of Belgium and is a direct descendant of Felix De Merode who led the Belguim rebellion of 1830. After a succesful campaign Felix decline the title of King of Belguim and Leopold the 1st came to power in Belguim. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: ICCN Ranger Theodor Nereye, 45, washes at the end of the day back in the Gorilla sector at Bukima for the first time in 15 months of fighting and uncertainty, 25 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: Daily scenes at Kibati ICCN Rangers station. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.
 LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Rangers on patrol in the Lulimbi region of Virunga National Park, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)
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 RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A ranger looks out the park from a watchtower at ICCN Congolese Conservation Ranger headquarters in Virunga National Park, DRC, 9 March 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
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 BUKIMA, VIRUNGA, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The Rugendo family of moutain gorillas, with a new 7 month old baby and a new Silverback leader called Bukima,Virunga National Park, DRC, March 4th 2012. In July 2007, 7 members of the Rugendo group were slaugheted by automatic weapons fire, including a pregnant female and an infant. The attack was a warning to conservation authorities to back off the illegal activities of a charcoal cabal using Virunga's hardwood to create an illegal multi-million dollar coal fuel industry. The attack was suppose to intimidate the Rangers into backing off but had the opposite effect. The perpetrators of the massacre were eventually caught, leading all the way to the fall of the Warden of the Southern Section of Virunga. The Park authorities changed and the Gorillas, despite a civil war raging all around them and the occupation of the Gorilla sector by a rebel army, have continued to thrive ever since. There are only around 700 mountains gorillas in the world and their DNA is second only to Chimpanzees as closest to man. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first sighting of new Mountain Gorilla babies in the family of Kabirizi, 25 November 2008. There appear to be at least 5 new births in the family. This is the first sighting of Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park by ICCN Congolese Conservation Authority rangers in over 15 months. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 TSHIABIRIMU, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTHERN SECTOR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - 4 MARCH 2008: Scenes from a patrol at the Tshabarimu ICCN post. The men are seen making their way up the mountain towards the gorilla sector. This outpost has seen a lot of fighting between different militia groups over the years and only last year 3 people were shot in an unexplained attack on the lower post. A member of WWF was killed and an employee of "The Gorillas Organisation" was shot in the leg and a student was wounded. Local politicans have used the park, promising land there to local populations if elected. This has caused tension between rangers and the local population. It is the only place other than the southern Mikeno sector, currently under rebel CNDP occupation, where it is possible to see gorillas in the DRC. These are currently classified as Eastern Lowland Gorillas. That said, there is some dispute as to the genetic profile of these gorillas, they resemble mountain gorillas in every way except size, being smaller than the traditional mountain gorilla. Genetic studies thus far point out that these gorillas are closest to Lowland gorillas but studies are ongoing. There are only 20 in total, isolated on the top of Mount Tshiarimu, cut off by human population groups from any other gorilla contact. They are the most northerly occuring of the Lowland gorillas and this may help to explain their similarity to mountain gorillas. This may in fact be the rarest of all gorillas groups if it is determined they are their own sub-species. I was able to briefly shoot a silverback from the Kipura family, a family of six, before the rain completely closed in. The name of the silverback is Tsongo, which means 2nd boy of the family in the local language. The gorillas are located 3 and a half hours from the camp, over a series of mountain tops and in a valley at the time of shooting. The largest family is the Kipura family of which there are 6 members. The mountain area where they ar
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 BUKIMA, VIRUNGA, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The Rugendo family of moutain gorillas, with a new 7 month old baby and a new Silverback leader called Bukima,Virunga National Park, DRC, March 4th 2012. In July 2007, 7 members of the Rugendo group were slaugheted by automatic weapons fire, including a pregnant female and an infant. The attack was a warning to conservation authorities to back off the illegal activities of a charcoal cabal using Virunga's hardwood to create an illegal multi-million dollar coal fuel industry. The attack was suppose to intimidate the Rangers into backing off but had the opposite effect. The perpetrators of the massacre were eventually caught, leading all the way to the fall of the Warden of the Southern Section of Virunga. The Park authorities changed and the Gorillas, despite a civil war raging all around them and the occupation of the Gorilla sector by a rebel army, have continued to thrive ever since. There are only around 700 mountains gorillas in the world and their DNA is second only to Chimpanzees as closest to man. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first sighting of Mountain Gorilla by Congolese Conservation Authorities in over 15 months, 25 November 2008. There appear to be at least 5 new births in the Kabirizi family. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
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 RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Andre, 39, a self described "gorilla mother" looks after 4 orphaned gorillas who were rescued from various horrific circumstances and brought into care by the staff of Virunga National Park, DRC, 2 March 2012. Andre thinks of these gorillas as his own children and even describes bringing his children to see them as showing them their brothers and sisters. Andre lives with the Gorillas 24/7 with the exception of a few days off to visit his own family. Andre is an ICCN Congolese Conservation ranger and has cared for orphaned and rescued gorillas since 2003. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
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 RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The families of ICCN conservation Rangers in their bleak homes at the ICCN conservation camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as C.N.D.P, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army.  Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)
 RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The families of ICCN conservation Rangers in their bleak homes at the ICCN conservation camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as C.N.D.P, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army.  Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)
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 ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO- 2 March 2008: Scenes from ICCN Ranger post at Ishango. The Rangers are seen cleaning weapons at the end of a patrol and then using the pull-up bars at the camp for a fun fitness test where they teased each other about how bad they were on the pullup bars.(Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)
 RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: A combined ICCN conservation Ranger force and FARDC Congolese Army soldiers patrol both the road and inland in the Virunga National Park at Rwindi, DRC, March 8 2012. This reconnaisance patrol was conducted because of an FDLR rebel hijacking which occured on the road 2 days earlier but protecting the civilians who travel on the road through the park is now the mandate of the Rangers, a job which saw 9 Rangers killed last year. The Ranger camp has been attacked by in recent times by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army.  Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)
 RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: A combined ICCN conservation Ranger force and FARDC Congolese Army soldiers patrol both the road and inland in the Virunga National Park at Rwindi, DRC, March 8 2012. This reconnaisance patrol was conducted because of an FDLR rebel hijacking which occured on the road 2 days earlier but protecting the civilians who travel on the road through the park is now the mandate of the Rangers, a job which saw 9 Rangers killed last year. The Ranger camp has been attacked by in recent times by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army.  Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)
 KIBUMBA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - 13 MARCH 2008: Robert Muir, 30, lone white guy, of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, accompanies a patrol of Advanced Force ICCN Rangers, reinforced by a few members of the FARDC Congolese Army and Military Police into FDLR Interhamwe Hutu rebel territory in an occupied sector of Virunga National Park. The Patrol is one of the first into this territory in many years and was designed as an initial on the ground assesment of the damage done to the forest by the illegal charcoal industry and illegal wood cutting. The FDLR have occupied this area since 1995 and the damage is extensive. This patrol was only into an area of light damage, not to the heart of the Charcoal production. The Patrol initially arrived with a UN peacekeeper support element but FDLR then refused them access to the Park. The FDLR then said that they were targetting the vehicles and we had to pull back immediately. After some negotiations the UN departed leaving the Ranger Force. I was then accused of being a spy for Rwanda whereupon myself and Robert went into the park and I explained my purpose. The FDLR then demanded an access feel of $200 of which we paid $120, all the money we had on us. I was then allowed to photograph. Upon entry into the Park we were met by 3 members of FDLR, led by Captain Murokore, who is the leader of the reputed Battalion of FDLR soldiers in the area. There are an estimated 8000 highly trained FDLR fighters in Virunga today. Despite repeated efforts to defeat them and get them out of the DRC, they are talented and experienced bushfighters who remain at large. Robert Muir has been in the DRC for over 4 years representing the Frankfurt Zoological Society, doing the very difficult job of reinforcing the ICCN parks authority. He has orchestrated training for the elite Advanced Force Rangers and works with Wildlife Direct and The London Zoological Society to ensure they are paid and fed, an uphill struggle. Muir has been inst
 RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: CNDP rebels, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 BUKAVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - MAY 18: Members of The Forces Du Republic Democratic Du Congolese undergo retraining under the UN Pakistani Soldiers stationed in this troubled region. They are pictured in training for house penetration and hostage rescue. Due to their poor pay, lack of equipment and quality of life, these soldiers are often involved in collaborative efforts with the militias in the area. This has resulted in wide-spread mistrust between the local population and these Congolese army soldiers, increasing the difficulties of peacekeeping in the region. (Photo by Brent Stirton)
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 KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - MAY 18: Remy Masamba, the Secretary General of the Union Pour La Democratie Et Le Progress Social, one of the main opposition parties to Joseph Kabila's current government. Elections have been postponed in the DRC and this has led to escalating tensions in the war-weary African country. (Photo by Brent Stirton)
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 BUKAVU, THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-AUGUST 2005: Traumatised civilians who have just escaped from a militia group are encountered by UN peacekeepers. The man has been bound with barbed wire, shot and tortured. The woman carries the body of her dead husband on her back. PHOTO BY BRENT STIRTON/GETTY IMAGES
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 KIMBUMBA INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE'S CAMP, KIBUMBA, GOMA, DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 19 FEBRUARY 2008: Views of Kibumba Internally Displaced People's Camp. This camp is filled with people displaced by the regional instability of recently conflict. It is now one of the sales area for illegal Charcoal produced in Virunga National Park in rebel FDLR territory. The Charcoal then makes its way to Goma. Goma is a town plaughed by overpopulation as a result of instability in the region as a result of multiple military players. Currently Goma houses some 750 000 people, most of those under the poverty line. The primary energy source for Goma is Charcoal, this huge demand is leading to the decimation of Virunga National Park as hardwoods are destroyed to make charcoal in industrial size ovens in the rebel held sections of the park. The Rwandan Hutu Interhamwe FDLR fighters who have occupied the region since 1995 control much of this along with the Congolese army and major players in the business community in Goma. It is a very difficult task for the ICCN Rangers to fight this huge industry, they are undermanned and ill-equipped to deal with the sheer size of the Charcoal operations. (Photo by Brent Stirton/call 347 386 0429 or Robert Muir at The Frankfurt Zoological Society in Goma DRC, +243 (0) 997251960 or mail at robertmuir@fzs.org.)
 LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Rangers investigate the corpse of a recently killed sub-adult male elephant in Lulimbi, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. The elephant has obviously been killed for its ivory, a trend on the rise across the DRC and one which makes the Rangers job very difficult. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)
 LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Conservation Rangers deploy young bloodhounds for the first time in Virunga to investigate the corpse of a recently killed sub-adult male elephant in Lulimbi, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. The elephant had obviously been killed for its ivory, a trend on the rise across the DRC and one which makes the Rangers job very difficult. The young dogs reacted with horror at the elephant corpse, their noses are estimated to be 3 million times more sensitive than a humans. After initially recoiling, the lead dog Lily, just over a year old, took the scent and followed it for several kilometers in the exact direction of a fishing village on Lake Edward long suspected in poaching cases in Virunga. She was pulled off the trail once Rangers knew where the suspects came from. Undercover intelligence will now be used in the village to seek out the sellers. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)
 LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Conservation Rangers deploy young bloodhounds for the first time in Virunga to investigate the corpse of a recently killed sub-adult male elephant in Lulimbi, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. The elephant had obviously been killed for its ivory, a trend on the rise across the DRC and one which makes the Rangers job very difficult. The young dogs reacted with horror at the elephant corpse, their noses are estimated to be 3 million times more sensitive than a humans. After initially recoiling, the lead dog Lily, just over a year old, took the scent and followed it for several kilometers in the exact direction of a fishing village on Lake Edward long suspected in poaching cases in Virunga. She was pulled off the trail once Rangers knew where the suspects came from. Undercover intelligence will now be used in the village to seek out the sellers. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)
 CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012:  ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all.
Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012:  ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all.
Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012:  ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all.
Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012:  ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all.
Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012:  ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all.
Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
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 ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba was killed today by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. These pictures depict the dead rangers at the local Red Cross clinic in the village and the body being delivered to the Ishango Ranger Station to be driven to Mutsora Ranger station, the headquarters for the Northern Sector region. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)
 ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba was killed today by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. These pictures depict the dead rangers at the local Red Cross clinic in the village and the body being delivered to the Ishango Ranger Station to be driven to Mutsora Ranger station, the headquarters for the Northern Sector region. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)
 ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba was killed today by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. These pictures depict the dead rangers at the local Red Cross clinic in the village and the body being delivered to the Ishango Ranger Station to be driven to Mutsora Ranger station, the headquarters for the Northern Sector region. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)
 MUTSORA RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-1 MARCH 2008: The funeral of ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba, 36, at Mutsora Ranger Station. He was killed by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. Kalibumba leaves behind a wife and 8 children now without a breadwinner or a father. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)
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 GOMA, DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2008: Scenes photographed at Goma Central Prison on 27 March 2007. The scenes include images from the crowded courtyard and cells as well as images from a prison relegious praise group who are gathered in a cell enthusiastically praying, singing and praising God. The mural on the wall includes the crucifiction scene set against the volcanoes which are a hallmark for Goma. (Photo by Brent Stirton/call 347 386 0429.)
 July, 2007, Virunga National Park, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: Emmanuel De Merode, director of conservation group Wildlife Direct, stands with Congolese Conservation Rangers over the body of a murdered female Mountain Gorilla, July 2007 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This female was one of 7 highly endangered mountain gorillas who were mysteriously killed that day in one of the biggest killings of an endangered primate in over 30 years. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.)
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 BUKIMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN CONGO, JULY 2007: Conservation Rangers from an Anti-Poaching unit work with locals to evacuate the bodies of four Mountain Gorrillas killed in mysterious circumstances in the park, Virunga National Park, Eastern Congo, 24 July 2007. A Silver-Back Alpha male, the leader of the group was shot, three females were also killed. Two of the females had babies and the other was pregnant. The two babies were not found and it is thought that they will have died of stress and dehydration. The motivation for the killing is not known but it is suspected that there are political motivations. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills. Over 100 Rangers have been killed in their efforts to protect the Gorrillas of Virunga, one of the world's most endangered species. The Congolese Rangers in this particular group are working with Wildlife Direct, a Conservation organisation. The Rangers receive a salary based on donations to Wildlife Direct and perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the world of wildlife conservation. The DRC has the highest toll of human casualties of any country since the second world war, a figure in the region of 4.6 million dead as a result of war and resultant displacement, disease, starvation and ongoing militia violence. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images for Newsweek.)
 BUKIMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN CONGO, JULY 2007: Conservation Rangers from an Anti-Poaching unit work with locals to evacuate the bodies of four Mountain Gorrillas killed in mysterious circumstances in the park, Virunga National Park, Eastern Congo, 24 July 2007. A Silver-Back Alpha male, the leader of the group was shot, three females were also killed. Two of the females had babies and the other was pregnant. The two babies were not found and it is thought that they will have died of stress and dehydration. The motivation for the killing is not known but it is suspected that there are political motivations. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills. Over 100 Rangers have been killed in their efforts to protect the Gorrillas of Virunga, one of the world's most endangered species. The Congolese Rangers in this particular group are working with Wildlife Direct, a Conservation organisation. The Rangers receive a salary based on donations to Wildlife Direct and perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the world of wildlife conservation. The DRC has the highest toll of human casualties of any country since the second world war, a figure in the region of 4.6 million dead as a result of war and resultant displacement, disease, starvation and ongoing militia violence. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images for Newsweek.)
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 RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The graves of mountain gorillas slain in Virunga National Park at ICCN Congolese Conservation Ranger headquarters in Virunga National Park, DRC, 9 March 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 RUMANGABO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN DR CONGO, 16 FEBRUARY 2008: Paulin Ngobobo, Chief Warden of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park. Ngobobo has been persecuted repeatedly for his conservation stance by both Congolese politicans and the Congolese military. Earlier in 2007 he was attempting to work against the illegal charcoal trade which is decimating the local forests. Ngobobo was grabbed by the military and in front of the villagers he was attempting to inform, his shirt was removed and he was given 80 lashes across his back. This is not the first time he has endured this kind of treatment. He was recently arrested and is under investigation by local authorities who are threatened by his conservation stance. It is speculated widely that Ngobobo's clashes with his senior last year are what prompted the killing of six gorillas in July 2007. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills. Over 100 Rangers have been killed in their efforts to protect the Gorrillas of Virunga, one of the world's most endangered species. (Photo by Brent Stirton/ph 1 347 386 0429 or +44 7795 060 715)
 GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - MARCH 27: Honore' Mashagiro, an ICCN senior official based in Bukavu, 27 March 2007 photographed in Goma, DRC. Mashagiro is at the center of accusations as to who killed the Virunga gorillas in July 2007. He is the former chief of the southern sector of Virunga National Park and has been involved in a long running battle between himself and Warden Pauline Ngogobo who was his second in command. Ngogobo accuses Mashagiro of involvement in hippo killings for profit, illegal charcoal manufacture and the recent killings of mountain gorillas in Virunga. Mashagiro has accused Ngogobo of the same actions but the number of Mashagiro's accusers is growing. He has recently been arrested and a court process to determine whether or not Mashagiro should stand trial is underway. His accusers hope that it will at least result in him being fired from ICCN, the Congolese conservation authority. Mashagiro pleads innocent to all charges and accuses Ngogobo and his powerful connections of conspiring against him. Mashagiro also has powerful connections and many of those in ICCN leadership positions in Goma have left town for reasons of personal safety. Pauline Ngogobo has been offered bodyguards by the Congolese Army for the duration of time he is in town to testify. (Photo by Brent Stirton.)
 KIBATI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-20 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station conduct roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted as of today by members of the Congolese military and military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The rangers job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.
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 KIBATI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-20 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station conduct roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted as of today by members of the Congolese military and military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The rangers job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.
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 KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: Daily scenes at Kibati ICCN Rangers station. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.
 KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: Scenes of the camp site and tired Rangers at midnight at the Kibati ICCN Rangers station. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.
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 KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Rangers conduct a raiding patrol into an area of illegal Charcoal production. They arrested a number of mules, poor people from displaced communities who are being used by the real powers behind Charcoal production in the area. These players include members of the Congolese military, the FDLR Interhamwe rebels and big businessmen in Goma. The ICCN Rangers were shot at by FDLR as they were completing their mission. This is an area known to be under their influence. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.
 KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Rangers conduct a raiding patrol into an area of illegal Charcoal production. They arrested a number of mules, poor people from displaced communities who are being used by the real powers behind Charcoal production in the area. These players include members of the Congolese military, the FDLR Interhamwe rebels and big businessmen in Goma. The ICCN Rangers were shot at by FDLR as they were completing their mission. This is an area known to be under their influence. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.
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 RUTSHURU, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: A fuel briquette press system being used by people displaced by violence in Eastern Congo to create an alternative to charcoal, Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, February 27, 2012. The Press uses waste paper, garbage, sawdust etc. This is mixed with water and beaten to a pulp, the pulp is then pressed in specially designed tubes under manual pressure. This creates up to 5 blocks at a time which are then dried and used as an alternative to charcoal. This system produces an economy of its own and it acts against illegal charcoal manufacture from hardwoods illegally harvested from Virunga National Park. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)
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 NGUGU, RUGARI, DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 15 FEBRUARY 2008: A section of men from one of General Nkunda's CNDP hilltop bases in the occupied Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park make their way to find gorillas along with CNDP appointed Mikeno Section Warden Kanamahrazi, (wearing a white shirt with green patches and animal designs). The Ranger doing the actual gorilla contact is Shyamba Kayitare. He is one of the ICCN Rangers who remained in the area when CNDP forces took Mikeno in the September 2007. On this trip the CNDP rebels and the warden and rangers had a brief encounter with the Kabrizi family of Gorillas who appeared to have suffered no ill health or loss of life due to the conflict and subsequent occupation of the Park by Nkundas forces. CNDP have opened their own version of ICCN, the Congolese Parks service, and created a split between Rangers who remained in the area after occupation through war and the Rangers who left the area on the instructions of ICCN Kinshasa. CNDP have colluded with and appointed returned Tutsi Warden Kanamaharazi, who claims that he is now the chief warden of Mikeno section, home of the mountain Gorilla population of DRC. Nkunda states that he is all for conservation and says that he believes that Virunga National Park is an important resource for the Congolese people which must be preserved. He invited the return of ICCN with full transparency and a promise of support from his men who are currently occupying the Mikeno sector, the gorilla sector of Virunga. This contradicts the actions of his troops in the area who do not want the former ICCN players to return but rather to be their own conservation force in the area. They do however want the full support of ICCN Kinshasa with salaries and full equipment. It was also discovered that the road into Bukima, a key gorilla area, has purportedly been mined. (Photo by Brent Stirton/call 347 386 0429 or Nkunda's Media liason Mr Amani +250 08201036 or email Kabashaa@yahoo.fr)
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 GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 16: Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, visits his Congolese Conservation Rangers (ICCN) displaced by recent violence to Bulengo IDP camp on the outskirts of Goma, DRC on 16 November 2008. De Merode is seen speaking with a Ranger who learnt the day before that one of his children had been killed in the violence. The region has been engulfed in recent chaos as a result of General Laurent Nkunda's CNDP rebel army's attacks on the Congolese army (FARDC) and its supporters. The attacks have resulted in a mass exodus of frightened civilians from villages in the region resulting in an ongoing humanitarian crisis. The ICCN rangers had to flee their bases in Virunga National Park and make their way to Goma. Many Rangers have lost everything as a result and now live as internally displaced people in camps alongside other IDPs. The future of Virunga National Park is now uncertain, with rebels occupying the Southern sector and more. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, negotiates with CNDP rebels for the Congolese Conservation Authority's return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, negotiates with CNDP rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda for the Congolese Conservation Authority's return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. General Nkunda agreed to this at the meeting. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, negotiates with CNDP rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda for the Congolese Conservation Authority's return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. General Nkunda agreed to this at the meeting. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The return of 120 courageous ICCN Rangers to CNDP rebel controlled Rumangabo, the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, D.R.C, 24 November 2008. The Rangers were displaced into Internally Displaced Peoples camps after renewed fighting in the region at the beginning of October. Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless Director of Virunga National Park, has negotiated a fragile deal for ICCN's return to the Park. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The return of 120 courageous ICCN Rangers to their looted homes at CNDP rebel controlled Rumangabo, the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, D.R.C, 24 November 2008. The Rangers were displaced into Internally Displaced Peoples camps after renewed fighting in the region at the beginning of October. Their base at Rumangabo had to be quickly evacuated and after the Rangers flight it was subsequently looted by various forces and civilian elements. Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless Director of Virunga National Park, has negotiated a fragile deal for ICCN's return to the Park. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first meeting of ICCN Congolese Conservation Rangers and CNDP rebel leaders at Rumangabo, the ICCN headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, 24 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first sighting of Mountain Gorilla by Congolese Conservation Authorities in over 15 months, North Kivu, DRC, 25 November 2008. There appear to be at least 5 new births in the Kabirizi family. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, makes an emotional return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 25 November 2008. Helmets and clothing from the CNDP Rebels are seen all around Bukima as it is the former front line of the conflict between CNDP and the Congolese Army. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)
 LAKE EDWARD, VIRUNGA, DRC, 5 JULY 2008: ICCN Rangers talk with fisherman on the banks of Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The Lake supports a community of over 50 000 people and fish is the main protein for the region. A number of important tributaries come off Lake Edward, including some which feed the Nile.
 ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Rangers patrol Lake Edward and visit the large illegal fishing village of Kyavinyonge. The village was initially supposed to only be a few fisherman on a fixed quota but because of regional conflict many internally displaced people flocked there and the village is now 20 000 and growing. The Rangers have a very difficult job in attempting to have these people respect the park and conservation values. Mai Mai militias and the Congolese army have killed vast numbers of Hippo in this lake and as a result the food chain has been destroyed. The lack of hippo excrement has affected worm production and other small food sources and as a result fish stock has plummeted. The illegal village however continues to grow and there is less and less chance of transplanting these 20 000 people.  (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)
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 VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Women and children fetch water from a newly contructed tap system built by the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority on the outskirts of Virunga National Park, DRC, 13 March 2012. This facility means the women and children no longer have to walk 6 kilometers to springs higher on the mountain. This has improved productivity, water quality and safety for the women. In addition to this project ICCN has constructed more than 30 schools, water points and hydro-elecric schemes, all part of a concerted effort to building understanding and appreciation for the park in the minds of local communities. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Women and children fetch water from a newly contructed tap system built by the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority on the outskirts of Virunga National Park, DRC, 13 March 2012. This facility means the women and children no longer have to walk 6 kilometers to springs higher on the mountain. This has improved productivity, water quality and safety for the women. In addition to this project ICCN has constructed more than 30 schools, water points and hydro-elecric schemes, all part of a concerted effort to building understanding and appreciation for the park in the minds of local communities. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)
 MUTWANGA, NORTH KIVU, DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: Kaseraka, 28, a polio victim, sweeps stones away from the main water flow area on a ICCN Virunga Hydro-electric project in Mutwanga, DRC, February 28 2012. Kaseraka is in charge of maintenance for the project and is typical of the disadvantaged community this scheme will benefit. This hydro-electric scheme is the Park's largest community project and will provide electricity to an empoverished community of 25 000 people as well as to schools, a general hospital and an orphanage. The pay off for the park is that the community comes to understand the relationship between healthy forests and healthy water supply as well as vastly improved community relations. Electricity will also be available for industry and that could revolutionise the community, allowing for the retention of the value of Congolese products internally as opposed to constant and expensive imports. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo Magazine.)
 MUTWANGA, NORTH KIVU, DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: Kaseraka, 28, a polio victim, sweeps stones away from the main water flow area on a ICCN Virunga Hydro-electric project in Mutwanga, DRC, February 28 2012. Kaseraka is in charge of maintenance for the project and is typical of the disadvantaged community this scheme will benefit. This hydro-electric scheme is the Park's largest community project and will provide electricity to an empoverished community of 25 000 people as well as to schools, a general hospital and an orphanage. The pay off for the park is that the community comes to understand the relationship between healthy forests and healthy water supply as well as vastly improved community relations. Electricity will also be available for industry and that could revolutionise the community, allowing for the retention of the value of Congolese products internally as opposed to constant and expensive imports. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo Magazine.)
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 BUKIMA, VIRUNGA, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The Rugendo family of moutain gorillas, with a new 7 month old baby and a new Silverback leader called Bukima,Virunga National Park, DRC, March 4th 2012. In July 2007, 7 members of the Rugendo group were slaugheted by automatic weapons fire, including a pregnant female and an infant. The attack was a warning to conservation authorities to back off the illegal activities of a charcoal cabal using Virunga's hardwood to create an illegal multi-million dollar coal fuel industry. The attack was suppose to intimidate the Rangers into backing off but had the opposite effect. The perpetrators of the massacre were eventually caught, leading all the way to the fall of the Warden of the Southern Section of Virunga. The Park authorities changed and the Gorillas, despite a civil war raging all around them and the occupation of the Gorilla sector by a rebel army, have continued to thrive ever since. There are only around 700 mountains gorillas in the world and their DNA is second only to Chimpanzees as closest to man. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Scenes of part of the Southern sector of Virunga National Park, photographed at CNDP rebel controlled Rumangabo, the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, D.R.C, 24 November 2008. The ICCN Congolese Conservation Rangers were displaced into Internally Displaced Peoples camps after renewed fighting in the region at the beginning of October. Their base at Rumangabo had to be quickly evacuated and after the Rangers flight it was subsequently looted by various forces and civilian elements. Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless Director of Virunga National Park, has negotiated a fragile deal for ICCN's return to the Park. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Images of the Volcano sector as seen from ICCN Congolese Conservation Ranger headquarters in Virunga National Park, DRC, 9 March 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

Kibumba, Virunga National Park, DRC, 13 March 2008: A view of some of the Volcanoes as one enters Virunga National Park from the Goma side.

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The destroyed remains of the Rwindi hotel, once a popular resort in this part of Virunga National Park, now a shell tacked on the ICCN conservation Ranger camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. The hotel was last open in 1992 and ICCN officials hope to one day see it restored to its former glory days. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The destroyed remains of the Rwindi hotel, once a popular resort in this part of Virunga National Park, now a shell tacked on the ICCN conservation Ranger camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. The hotel was last open in 1992 and ICCN officials hope to one day see it restored to its former glory days. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The destroyed remains of the Rwindi hotel, once a popular resort in this part of Virunga National Park, now a shell tacked on the ICCN conservation Ranger camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. The hotel was last open in 1992 and ICCN officials hope to one day see it restored to its former glory days. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: ICCN Director of Virunga National Park Emmanuel De Merode photographed at Rumangabo Ranger Headquarters, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo on 24 November 2008. De Merode is a tireless and courageous advocate of conservation in the DRC and has been working in the Congo since 1992. De Merode is also a Prince of Belgium and is a direct descendant of Felix De Merode who led the Belguim rebellion of 1830. After a succesful campaign Felix decline the title of King of Belguim and Leopold the 1st came to power in Belguim. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: ICCN Ranger Theodor Nereye, 45, washes at the end of the day back in the Gorilla sector at Bukima for the first time in 15 months of fighting and uncertainty, 25 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: Daily scenes at Kibati ICCN Rangers station. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Rangers on patrol in the Lulimbi region of Virunga National Park, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A ranger looks out the park from a watchtower at ICCN Congolese Conservation Ranger headquarters in Virunga National Park, DRC, 9 March 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The Rugendo family of moutain gorillas, with a new 7 month old baby and a new Silverback leader called Bukima,Virunga National Park, DRC, March 4th 2012. In July 2007, 7 members of the Rugendo group were slaugheted by automatic weapons fire, including a pregnant female and an infant. The attack was a warning to conservation authorities to back off the illegal activities of a charcoal cabal using Virunga's hardwood to create an illegal multi-million dollar coal fuel industry. The attack was suppose to intimidate the Rangers into backing off but had the opposite effect. The perpetrators of the massacre were eventually caught, leading all the way to the fall of the Warden of the Southern Section of Virunga. The Park authorities changed and the Gorillas, despite a civil war raging all around them and the occupation of the Gorilla sector by a rebel army, have continued to thrive ever since. There are only around 700 mountains gorillas in the world and their DNA is second only to Chimpanzees as closest to man. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first sighting of new Mountain Gorilla babies in the family of Kabirizi, 25 November 2008. There appear to be at least 5 new births in the family. This is the first sighting of Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park by ICCN Congolese Conservation Authority rangers in over 15 months. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

TSHIABIRIMU, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTHERN SECTOR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - 4 MARCH 2008: Scenes from a patrol at the Tshabarimu ICCN post. The men are seen making their way up the mountain towards the gorilla sector. This outpost has seen a lot of fighting between different militia groups over the years and only last year 3 people were shot in an unexplained attack on the lower post. A member of WWF was killed and an employee of "The Gorillas Organisation" was shot in the leg and a student was wounded. Local politicans have used the park, promising land there to local populations if elected. This has caused tension between rangers and the local population. It is the only place other than the southern Mikeno sector, currently under rebel CNDP occupation, where it is possible to see gorillas in the DRC. These are currently classified as Eastern Lowland Gorillas. That said, there is some dispute as to the genetic profile of these gorillas, they resemble mountain gorillas in every way except size, being smaller than the traditional mountain gorilla. Genetic studies thus far point out that these gorillas are closest to Lowland gorillas but studies are ongoing. There are only 20 in total, isolated on the top of Mount Tshiarimu, cut off by human population groups from any other gorilla contact. They are the most northerly occuring of the Lowland gorillas and this may help to explain their similarity to mountain gorillas. This may in fact be the rarest of all gorillas groups if it is determined they are their own sub-species. I was able to briefly shoot a silverback from the Kipura family, a family of six, before the rain completely closed in. The name of the silverback is Tsongo, which means 2nd boy of the family in the local language. The gorillas are located 3 and a half hours from the camp, over a series of mountain tops and in a valley at the time of shooting. The largest family is the Kipura family of which there are 6 members. The mountain area where they ar

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The Rugendo family of moutain gorillas, with a new 7 month old baby and a new Silverback leader called Bukima,Virunga National Park, DRC, March 4th 2012. In July 2007, 7 members of the Rugendo group were slaugheted by automatic weapons fire, including a pregnant female and an infant. The attack was a warning to conservation authorities to back off the illegal activities of a charcoal cabal using Virunga's hardwood to create an illegal multi-million dollar coal fuel industry. The attack was suppose to intimidate the Rangers into backing off but had the opposite effect. The perpetrators of the massacre were eventually caught, leading all the way to the fall of the Warden of the Southern Section of Virunga. The Park authorities changed and the Gorillas, despite a civil war raging all around them and the occupation of the Gorilla sector by a rebel army, have continued to thrive ever since. There are only around 700 mountains gorillas in the world and their DNA is second only to Chimpanzees as closest to man. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first sighting of Mountain Gorilla by Congolese Conservation Authorities in over 15 months, 25 November 2008. There appear to be at least 5 new births in the Kabirizi family. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Andre, 39, a self described "gorilla mother" looks after 4 orphaned gorillas who were rescued from various horrific circumstances and brought into care by the staff of Virunga National Park, DRC, 2 March 2012. Andre thinks of these gorillas as his own children and even describes bringing his children to see them as showing them their brothers and sisters. Andre lives with the Gorillas 24/7 with the exception of a few days off to visit his own family. Andre is an ICCN Congolese Conservation ranger and has cared for orphaned and rescued gorillas since 2003. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The families of ICCN conservation Rangers in their bleak homes at the ICCN conservation camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as C.N.D.P, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: The families of ICCN conservation Rangers in their bleak homes at the ICCN conservation camp at Rwindi, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. This camp has been attacked by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as C.N.D.P, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO- 2 March 2008: Scenes from ICCN Ranger post at Ishango. The Rangers are seen cleaning weapons at the end of a patrol and then using the pull-up bars at the camp for a fun fitness test where they teased each other about how bad they were on the pullup bars.(Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: A combined ICCN conservation Ranger force and FARDC Congolese Army soldiers patrol both the road and inland in the Virunga National Park at Rwindi, DRC, March 8 2012. This reconnaisance patrol was conducted because of an FDLR rebel hijacking which occured on the road 2 days earlier but protecting the civilians who travel on the road through the park is now the mandate of the Rangers, a job which saw 9 Rangers killed last year. The Ranger camp has been attacked by in recent times by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

RWINDI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DRC, MARCH 2012: A combined ICCN conservation Ranger force and FARDC Congolese Army soldiers patrol both the road and inland in the Virunga National Park at Rwindi, DRC, March 8 2012. This reconnaisance patrol was conducted because of an FDLR rebel hijacking which occured on the road 2 days earlier but protecting the civilians who travel on the road through the park is now the mandate of the Rangers, a job which saw 9 Rangers killed last year. The Ranger camp has been attacked by in recent times by both FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu Genocidaires living illegally in Virunga as well as CNDP, a rebel break away faction of the Congolese army. Rwindi remains a harcore flashpoint for contacts between FDLR and Rangers on patrol in the Park. 9 Rangers were killed in Rwindi in 2011. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportge for GEO magazine.)

KIBUMBA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - 13 MARCH 2008: Robert Muir, 30, lone white guy, of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, accompanies a patrol of Advanced Force ICCN Rangers, reinforced by a few members of the FARDC Congolese Army and Military Police into FDLR Interhamwe Hutu rebel territory in an occupied sector of Virunga National Park. The Patrol is one of the first into this territory in many years and was designed as an initial on the ground assesment of the damage done to the forest by the illegal charcoal industry and illegal wood cutting. The FDLR have occupied this area since 1995 and the damage is extensive. This patrol was only into an area of light damage, not to the heart of the Charcoal production. The Patrol initially arrived with a UN peacekeeper support element but FDLR then refused them access to the Park. The FDLR then said that they were targetting the vehicles and we had to pull back immediately. After some negotiations the UN departed leaving the Ranger Force. I was then accused of being a spy for Rwanda whereupon myself and Robert went into the park and I explained my purpose. The FDLR then demanded an access feel of $200 of which we paid $120, all the money we had on us. I was then allowed to photograph. Upon entry into the Park we were met by 3 members of FDLR, led by Captain Murokore, who is the leader of the reputed Battalion of FDLR soldiers in the area. There are an estimated 8000 highly trained FDLR fighters in Virunga today. Despite repeated efforts to defeat them and get them out of the DRC, they are talented and experienced bushfighters who remain at large. Robert Muir has been in the DRC for over 4 years representing the Frankfurt Zoological Society, doing the very difficult job of reinforcing the ICCN parks authority. He has orchestrated training for the elite Advanced Force Rangers and works with Wildlife Direct and The London Zoological Society to ensure they are paid and fed, an uphill struggle. Muir has been inst

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: CNDP rebels, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

BUKAVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - MAY 18: Members of The Forces Du Republic Democratic Du Congolese undergo retraining under the UN Pakistani Soldiers stationed in this troubled region. They are pictured in training for house penetration and hostage rescue. Due to their poor pay, lack of equipment and quality of life, these soldiers are often involved in collaborative efforts with the militias in the area. This has resulted in wide-spread mistrust between the local population and these Congolese army soldiers, increasing the difficulties of peacekeeping in the region. (Photo by Brent Stirton)

KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - MAY 18: Remy Masamba, the Secretary General of the Union Pour La Democratie Et Le Progress Social, one of the main opposition parties to Joseph Kabila's current government. Elections have been postponed in the DRC and this has led to escalating tensions in the war-weary African country. (Photo by Brent Stirton)

BUKAVU, THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-AUGUST 2005: Traumatised civilians who have just escaped from a militia group are encountered by UN peacekeepers. The man has been bound with barbed wire, shot and tortured. The woman carries the body of her dead husband on her back. PHOTO BY BRENT STIRTON/GETTY IMAGES

KIMBUMBA INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE'S CAMP, KIBUMBA, GOMA, DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 19 FEBRUARY 2008: Views of Kibumba Internally Displaced People's Camp. This camp is filled with people displaced by the regional instability of recently conflict. It is now one of the sales area for illegal Charcoal produced in Virunga National Park in rebel FDLR territory. The Charcoal then makes its way to Goma. Goma is a town plaughed by overpopulation as a result of instability in the region as a result of multiple military players. Currently Goma houses some 750 000 people, most of those under the poverty line. The primary energy source for Goma is Charcoal, this huge demand is leading to the decimation of Virunga National Park as hardwoods are destroyed to make charcoal in industrial size ovens in the rebel held sections of the park. The Rwandan Hutu Interhamwe FDLR fighters who have occupied the region since 1995 control much of this along with the Congolese army and major players in the business community in Goma. It is a very difficult task for the ICCN Rangers to fight this huge industry, they are undermanned and ill-equipped to deal with the sheer size of the Charcoal operations. (Photo by Brent Stirton/call 347 386 0429 or Robert Muir at The Frankfurt Zoological Society in Goma DRC, +243 (0) 997251960 or mail at robertmuir@fzs.org.)

LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Rangers investigate the corpse of a recently killed sub-adult male elephant in Lulimbi, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. The elephant has obviously been killed for its ivory, a trend on the rise across the DRC and one which makes the Rangers job very difficult. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Conservation Rangers deploy young bloodhounds for the first time in Virunga to investigate the corpse of a recently killed sub-adult male elephant in Lulimbi, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. The elephant had obviously been killed for its ivory, a trend on the rise across the DRC and one which makes the Rangers job very difficult. The young dogs reacted with horror at the elephant corpse, their noses are estimated to be 3 million times more sensitive than a humans. After initially recoiling, the lead dog Lily, just over a year old, took the scent and followed it for several kilometers in the exact direction of a fishing village on Lake Edward long suspected in poaching cases in Virunga. She was pulled off the trail once Rangers knew where the suspects came from. Undercover intelligence will now be used in the village to seek out the sellers. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

LULIMBI, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: ICCN Conservation Rangers deploy young bloodhounds for the first time in Virunga to investigate the corpse of a recently killed sub-adult male elephant in Lulimbi, Eastern DRC, February 29, 2012. The elephant had obviously been killed for its ivory, a trend on the rise across the DRC and one which makes the Rangers job very difficult. The young dogs reacted with horror at the elephant corpse, their noses are estimated to be 3 million times more sensitive than a humans. After initially recoiling, the lead dog Lily, just over a year old, took the scent and followed it for several kilometers in the exact direction of a fishing village on Lake Edward long suspected in poaching cases in Virunga. She was pulled off the trail once Rangers knew where the suspects came from. Undercover intelligence will now be used in the village to seek out the sellers. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: A combined team of ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army patrol an area known to have a FDLR rebel presence, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. Since they fled into the DRC and the park after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

CHONDO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: ICCN Congolese conservation rangers and members of the Congolese army capture illegal fisherman, Chondo, Virunga, 12 March 2012. Many of these fisherman are involved in this activity due to poverty, others are there to supply the rebel FDLR group with food. The FDLR are the hardcore Hutu's who were behind the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The fish stocks in the lake are just beginning to recover from the war, thousands of hippos were slaughtered to feed militia groups and this devastated fish stocks. This delicate recovery is what the ICCN rangers are trying to protect. This will allow a viable and sustainable fishing industry to be generated at Lake Edward, for the benefit of all. Since the FDLR fled into Virunga after the Genocide, they have sown mayhem and destruction in Virunga. 140 Rangers have died defending Virunga since 1994, many at the hands of the FDLR rebels. There are regular contacts between the Rangers and FDLR, usually resulting in injuries and deaths on either side. The Rangers, with the help of the FARDC, are winning this battle but at a heavy price. In 2011 eleven Rangers died fighting the FDLR. Virunga remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practise conservation. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba was killed today by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. These pictures depict the dead rangers at the local Red Cross clinic in the village and the body being delivered to the Ishango Ranger Station to be driven to Mutsora Ranger station, the headquarters for the Northern Sector region. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba was killed today by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. These pictures depict the dead rangers at the local Red Cross clinic in the village and the body being delivered to the Ishango Ranger Station to be driven to Mutsora Ranger station, the headquarters for the Northern Sector region. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba was killed today by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. These pictures depict the dead rangers at the local Red Cross clinic in the village and the body being delivered to the Ishango Ranger Station to be driven to Mutsora Ranger station, the headquarters for the Northern Sector region. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

MUTSORA RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-1 MARCH 2008: The funeral of ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba, 36, at Mutsora Ranger Station. He was killed by a rogue FARDC Congolese soldier who allegedly had a fallout with his commander over a disciplinary issue and left the base on a killing spree. The soldier left the army base and walked into the park. He encountered a local doctor on a motorbike and demanded the motorbike. When the doctor refused the soldier shot him multiple times. The Soldier rode on and the next person he encountered was ICCN Ranger Kambale Kalibumba. The Ranger was walking with a small girl at the time, the daughter of a friend. The soldier allegedly beckoned the Ranger over as he knew the Ranger would discover the dead doctor and raise the alarm. The soldier then shot the Ranger 5 times at close range. The girl fled into the bushes and raised the alarm. At the time the Ranger was in the park on the way to the Ishango post with rations for the patrol. More than 100 rangers have died in the last ten years as a result of their work in Virunga National Park. Kalibumba leaves behind a wife and 8 children now without a breadwinner or a father. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

GOMA, DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2008: Scenes photographed at Goma Central Prison on 27 March 2007. The scenes include images from the crowded courtyard and cells as well as images from a prison relegious praise group who are gathered in a cell enthusiastically praying, singing and praising God. The mural on the wall includes the crucifiction scene set against the volcanoes which are a hallmark for Goma. (Photo by Brent Stirton/call 347 386 0429.)

July, 2007, Virunga National Park, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: Emmanuel De Merode, director of conservation group Wildlife Direct, stands with Congolese Conservation Rangers over the body of a murdered female Mountain Gorilla, July 2007 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This female was one of 7 highly endangered mountain gorillas who were mysteriously killed that day in one of the biggest killings of an endangered primate in over 30 years. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.)

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN CONGO, JULY 2007: Conservation Rangers from an Anti-Poaching unit work with locals to evacuate the bodies of four Mountain Gorrillas killed in mysterious circumstances in the park, Virunga National Park, Eastern Congo, 24 July 2007. A Silver-Back Alpha male, the leader of the group was shot, three females were also killed. Two of the females had babies and the other was pregnant. The two babies were not found and it is thought that they will have died of stress and dehydration. The motivation for the killing is not known but it is suspected that there are political motivations. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills. Over 100 Rangers have been killed in their efforts to protect the Gorrillas of Virunga, one of the world's most endangered species. The Congolese Rangers in this particular group are working with Wildlife Direct, a Conservation organisation. The Rangers receive a salary based on donations to Wildlife Direct and perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the world of wildlife conservation. The DRC has the highest toll of human casualties of any country since the second world war, a figure in the region of 4.6 million dead as a result of war and resultant displacement, disease, starvation and ongoing militia violence. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images for Newsweek.)

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN CONGO, JULY 2007: Conservation Rangers from an Anti-Poaching unit work with locals to evacuate the bodies of four Mountain Gorrillas killed in mysterious circumstances in the park, Virunga National Park, Eastern Congo, 24 July 2007. A Silver-Back Alpha male, the leader of the group was shot, three females were also killed. Two of the females had babies and the other was pregnant. The two babies were not found and it is thought that they will have died of stress and dehydration. The motivation for the killing is not known but it is suspected that there are political motivations. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills. Over 100 Rangers have been killed in their efforts to protect the Gorrillas of Virunga, one of the world's most endangered species. The Congolese Rangers in this particular group are working with Wildlife Direct, a Conservation organisation. The Rangers receive a salary based on donations to Wildlife Direct and perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the world of wildlife conservation. The DRC has the highest toll of human casualties of any country since the second world war, a figure in the region of 4.6 million dead as a result of war and resultant displacement, disease, starvation and ongoing militia violence. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images for Newsweek.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The graves of mountain gorillas slain in Virunga National Park at ICCN Congolese Conservation Ranger headquarters in Virunga National Park, DRC, 9 March 2012. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RUMANGABO, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, EASTERN DR CONGO, 16 FEBRUARY 2008: Paulin Ngobobo, Chief Warden of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park. Ngobobo has been persecuted repeatedly for his conservation stance by both Congolese politicans and the Congolese military. Earlier in 2007 he was attempting to work against the illegal charcoal trade which is decimating the local forests. Ngobobo was grabbed by the military and in front of the villagers he was attempting to inform, his shirt was removed and he was given 80 lashes across his back. This is not the first time he has endured this kind of treatment. He was recently arrested and is under investigation by local authorities who are threatened by his conservation stance. It is speculated widely that Ngobobo's clashes with his senior last year are what prompted the killing of six gorillas in July 2007. The local illegal Charcoal industry clashes with conservation efforts in this very poor area and Rangers have been threatened, tortured and killed as a result of this clash of political and economic wills. Over 100 Rangers have been killed in their efforts to protect the Gorrillas of Virunga, one of the world's most endangered species. (Photo by Brent Stirton/ph 1 347 386 0429 or +44 7795 060 715)

GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - MARCH 27: Honore' Mashagiro, an ICCN senior official based in Bukavu, 27 March 2007 photographed in Goma, DRC. Mashagiro is at the center of accusations as to who killed the Virunga gorillas in July 2007. He is the former chief of the southern sector of Virunga National Park and has been involved in a long running battle between himself and Warden Pauline Ngogobo who was his second in command. Ngogobo accuses Mashagiro of involvement in hippo killings for profit, illegal charcoal manufacture and the recent killings of mountain gorillas in Virunga. Mashagiro has accused Ngogobo of the same actions but the number of Mashagiro's accusers is growing. He has recently been arrested and a court process to determine whether or not Mashagiro should stand trial is underway. His accusers hope that it will at least result in him being fired from ICCN, the Congolese conservation authority. Mashagiro pleads innocent to all charges and accuses Ngogobo and his powerful connections of conspiring against him. Mashagiro also has powerful connections and many of those in ICCN leadership positions in Goma have left town for reasons of personal safety. Pauline Ngogobo has been offered bodyguards by the Congolese Army for the duration of time he is in town to testify. (Photo by Brent Stirton.)

KIBATI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-20 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station conduct roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted as of today by members of the Congolese military and military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The rangers job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-20 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station conduct roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted as of today by members of the Congolese military and military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The rangers job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: Daily scenes at Kibati ICCN Rangers station. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: Scenes of the camp site and tired Rangers at midnight at the Kibati ICCN Rangers station. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Rangers conduct a raiding patrol into an area of illegal Charcoal production. They arrested a number of mules, poor people from displaced communities who are being used by the real powers behind Charcoal production in the area. These players include members of the Congolese military, the FDLR Interhamwe rebels and big businessmen in Goma. The ICCN Rangers were shot at by FDLR as they were completing their mission. This is an area known to be under their influence. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

KIBATI, CLOSE TO GOMA, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK,NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-23 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Rangers conduct a raiding patrol into an area of illegal Charcoal production. They arrested a number of mules, poor people from displaced communities who are being used by the real powers behind Charcoal production in the area. These players include members of the Congolese military, the FDLR Interhamwe rebels and big businessmen in Goma. The ICCN Rangers were shot at by FDLR as they were completing their mission. This is an area known to be under their influence. ICCN Advance Force rangers at the Kibati Station are conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches for illegal charcoal in Virunga National Park. They are being assisted by members of the Congolese military police who are looking to stamp out their own military's involment in the illegal charcoal industry. The ICCN Ranger's job is complicated by the large number of Congolese military travelling on many of the vehicles and also by the fact that the Charcoal producers are increasingly turning to military vehicles as their means of transport as the Rangers until today had no rights to search vehicles of the Congolese Army. There is complicity between bad elements of the Congolese military, the rebel FDLR Interhamwe militias in the Charcoal industry, rumoured to be worth around 30 million dollars a year in the Goma region of DRC. Rwanda recently banned the production of charcoal which has led to increased prices and demand. The ranger's job is further complicated by the fact that the area is desperately poor and people have a hard time accepting this ban on one of the very few opportunities they feel they have to actually make some money. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir +243 997251960 in Goma.

RUTSHURU, EASTERN DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: A fuel briquette press system being used by people displaced by violence in Eastern Congo to create an alternative to charcoal, Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, February 27, 2012. The Press uses waste paper, garbage, sawdust etc. This is mixed with water and beaten to a pulp, the pulp is then pressed in specially designed tubes under manual pressure. This creates up to 5 blocks at a time which are then dried and used as an alternative to charcoal. This system produces an economy of its own and it acts against illegal charcoal manufacture from hardwoods illegally harvested from Virunga National Park. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo magazine.)

NGUGU, RUGARI, DEMOCRACTIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 15 FEBRUARY 2008: A section of men from one of General Nkunda's CNDP hilltop bases in the occupied Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park make their way to find gorillas along with CNDP appointed Mikeno Section Warden Kanamahrazi, (wearing a white shirt with green patches and animal designs). The Ranger doing the actual gorilla contact is Shyamba Kayitare. He is one of the ICCN Rangers who remained in the area when CNDP forces took Mikeno in the September 2007. On this trip the CNDP rebels and the warden and rangers had a brief encounter with the Kabrizi family of Gorillas who appeared to have suffered no ill health or loss of life due to the conflict and subsequent occupation of the Park by Nkundas forces. CNDP have opened their own version of ICCN, the Congolese Parks service, and created a split between Rangers who remained in the area after occupation through war and the Rangers who left the area on the instructions of ICCN Kinshasa. CNDP have colluded with and appointed returned Tutsi Warden Kanamaharazi, who claims that he is now the chief warden of Mikeno section, home of the mountain Gorilla population of DRC. Nkunda states that he is all for conservation and says that he believes that Virunga National Park is an important resource for the Congolese people which must be preserved. He invited the return of ICCN with full transparency and a promise of support from his men who are currently occupying the Mikeno sector, the gorilla sector of Virunga. This contradicts the actions of his troops in the area who do not want the former ICCN players to return but rather to be their own conservation force in the area. They do however want the full support of ICCN Kinshasa with salaries and full equipment. It was also discovered that the road into Bukima, a key gorilla area, has purportedly been mined. (Photo by Brent Stirton/call 347 386 0429 or Nkunda's Media liason Mr Amani +250 08201036 or email Kabashaa@yahoo.fr)

GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 16: Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, visits his Congolese Conservation Rangers (ICCN) displaced by recent violence to Bulengo IDP camp on the outskirts of Goma, DRC on 16 November 2008. De Merode is seen speaking with a Ranger who learnt the day before that one of his children had been killed in the violence. The region has been engulfed in recent chaos as a result of General Laurent Nkunda's CNDP rebel army's attacks on the Congolese army (FARDC) and its supporters. The attacks have resulted in a mass exodus of frightened civilians from villages in the region resulting in an ongoing humanitarian crisis. The ICCN rangers had to flee their bases in Virunga National Park and make their way to Goma. Many Rangers have lost everything as a result and now live as internally displaced people in camps alongside other IDPs. The future of Virunga National Park is now uncertain, with rebels occupying the Southern sector and more. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, negotiates with CNDP rebels for the Congolese Conservation Authority's return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, negotiates with CNDP rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda for the Congolese Conservation Authority's return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. General Nkunda agreed to this at the meeting. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, negotiates with CNDP rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda for the Congolese Conservation Authority's return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 23 November 2008. General Nkunda agreed to this at the meeting. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The return of 120 courageous ICCN Rangers to CNDP rebel controlled Rumangabo, the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, D.R.C, 24 November 2008. The Rangers were displaced into Internally Displaced Peoples camps after renewed fighting in the region at the beginning of October. Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless Director of Virunga National Park, has negotiated a fragile deal for ICCN's return to the Park. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The return of 120 courageous ICCN Rangers to their looted homes at CNDP rebel controlled Rumangabo, the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, D.R.C, 24 November 2008. The Rangers were displaced into Internally Displaced Peoples camps after renewed fighting in the region at the beginning of October. Their base at Rumangabo had to be quickly evacuated and after the Rangers flight it was subsequently looted by various forces and civilian elements. Emmanuel De Merode, the tireless Director of Virunga National Park, has negotiated a fragile deal for ICCN's return to the Park. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first meeting of ICCN Congolese Conservation Rangers and CNDP rebel leaders at Rumangabo, the ICCN headquarters of the Southern Sector of Virunga National Park, 24 November 2008. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: The first sighting of Mountain Gorilla by Congolese Conservation Authorities in over 15 months, North Kivu, DRC, 25 November 2008. There appear to be at least 5 new births in the Kabirizi family. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

BUKIMA, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-NOVEMBER 2008: Emmanuel De Merode, tireless ICCN Congolese Conservation Director of Virunga National Park, makes an emotional return to Bukima in the Mountain Gorilla sector of Virunga National Park for the first time in over 15 months of fighting and tensions in the area, North Kivu, D.R.C, 25 November 2008. Helmets and clothing from the CNDP Rebels are seen all around Bukima as it is the former front line of the conflict between CNDP and the Congolese Army. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Getty Images.)

LAKE EDWARD, VIRUNGA, DRC, 5 JULY 2008: ICCN Rangers talk with fisherman on the banks of Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The Lake supports a community of over 50 000 people and fish is the main protein for the region. A number of important tributaries come off Lake Edward, including some which feed the Nile.

ISHANGO RANGER STATION, NORTHERN SECTOR, VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, RUWENZORI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO-27 FEBRUARY 2008: ICCN Rangers patrol Lake Edward and visit the large illegal fishing village of Kyavinyonge. The village was initially supposed to only be a few fisherman on a fixed quota but because of regional conflict many internally displaced people flocked there and the village is now 20 000 and growing. The Rangers have a very difficult job in attempting to have these people respect the park and conservation values. Mai Mai militias and the Congolese army have killed vast numbers of Hippo in this lake and as a result the food chain has been destroyed. The lack of hippo excrement has affected worm production and other small food sources and as a result fish stock has plummeted. The illegal village however continues to grow and there is less and less chance of transplanting these 20 000 people. (Photo by Brent Stirton. ) For verification phone Rob Muir at the Frankfurt Zoological Society +243 997251960 in Goma and Emanuel De Merode at Wildlife Direct on +254 721344504 or Brent Stirton at +44 7795 060 715 or +1 347 386 0429.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

VITSHUMBI, LAKE EDWARD, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Scenes from Vitshumbi fishing village on Lake Edward, Virunga National Park, DRC, March 8 2012. There are over 800 registered legal fisherman on Lake Edward, they supply the main food source to over 40 000 people who live around the edges of the lake, the lake is also an important tributary for the Nile. Socco Oil, a UK based oil company, are attempting to prospect for oil in Lake Edward, located in Virunga National Park. This is illegal under Congolese Law and in 2011 the then Minister of the Environment declared that there would be no oil exploration in Virunga, a world heritage site and Africa's first National Park, the second ever after Yellowstone in the USA. Since then that Minister has lost his seat and Socco has worked hard to obtain partners under suspicious circumstances which will allow them to begin oil exploration in Lake Edward in Virunga National Park. The fisherman of Lake Edward and the vast majority of people living around the Lake are firmly opposed to this, believing that there will be catastrophic damage to the environment from which they make their living and feed the local population. Socco and their local political allies have tried to sell them on the idea that there will be job creation, roads, schools and hospitals but the locals believe that the only people who will benefit will be certain politicians and not their local villages. Socco previously prospected in Selous National Park in Tanzania and created environmental damage there, locals fear the same now for Lake Edward. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Women and children fetch water from a newly contructed tap system built by the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority on the outskirts of Virunga National Park, DRC, 13 March 2012. This facility means the women and children no longer have to walk 6 kilometers to springs higher on the mountain. This has improved productivity, water quality and safety for the women. In addition to this project ICCN has constructed more than 30 schools, water points and hydro-elecric schemes, all part of a concerted effort to building understanding and appreciation for the park in the minds of local communities. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

RUMANGABO, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: Women and children fetch water from a newly contructed tap system built by the ICCN Congolese Conservation authority on the outskirts of Virunga National Park, DRC, 13 March 2012. This facility means the women and children no longer have to walk 6 kilometers to springs higher on the mountain. This has improved productivity, water quality and safety for the women. In addition to this project ICCN has constructed more than 30 schools, water points and hydro-elecric schemes, all part of a concerted effort to building understanding and appreciation for the park in the minds of local communities. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

MUTWANGA, NORTH KIVU, DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: Kaseraka, 28, a polio victim, sweeps stones away from the main water flow area on a ICCN Virunga Hydro-electric project in Mutwanga, DRC, February 28 2012. Kaseraka is in charge of maintenance for the project and is typical of the disadvantaged community this scheme will benefit. This hydro-electric scheme is the Park's largest community project and will provide electricity to an empoverished community of 25 000 people as well as to schools, a general hospital and an orphanage. The pay off for the park is that the community comes to understand the relationship between healthy forests and healthy water supply as well as vastly improved community relations. Electricity will also be available for industry and that could revolutionise the community, allowing for the retention of the value of Congolese products internally as opposed to constant and expensive imports. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo Magazine.)

MUTWANGA, NORTH KIVU, DRC, FEBRUARY 2012: Kaseraka, 28, a polio victim, sweeps stones away from the main water flow area on a ICCN Virunga Hydro-electric project in Mutwanga, DRC, February 28 2012. Kaseraka is in charge of maintenance for the project and is typical of the disadvantaged community this scheme will benefit. This hydro-electric scheme is the Park's largest community project and will provide electricity to an empoverished community of 25 000 people as well as to schools, a general hospital and an orphanage. The pay off for the park is that the community comes to understand the relationship between healthy forests and healthy water supply as well as vastly improved community relations. Electricity will also be available for industry and that could revolutionise the community, allowing for the retention of the value of Congolese products internally as opposed to constant and expensive imports. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for Geo Magazine.)

BUKIMA, VIRUNGA, EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, MARCH 2012: The Rugendo family of moutain gorillas, with a new 7 month old baby and a new Silverback leader called Bukima,Virunga National Park, DRC, March 4th 2012. In July 2007, 7 members of the Rugendo group were slaugheted by automatic weapons fire, including a pregnant female and an infant. The attack was a warning to conservation authorities to back off the illegal activities of a charcoal cabal using Virunga's hardwood to create an illegal multi-million dollar coal fuel industry. The attack was suppose to intimidate the Rangers into backing off but had the opposite effect. The perpetrators of the massacre were eventually caught, leading all the way to the fall of the Warden of the Southern Section of Virunga. The Park authorities changed and the Gorillas, despite a civil war raging all around them and the occupation of the Gorilla sector by a rebel army, have continued to thrive ever since. There are only around 700 mountains gorillas in the world and their DNA is second only to Chimpanzees as closest to man. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage for GEO magazine.)

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