The partnership that manages Garamba National Park which consists of the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and the African Parks Network, has issued a press release about the attack on the Park headquarters by Lords Resistance Army of the Ugandan rebel, Joseph Kony on which Paula reported in her post earlier today. Garamba park rangers were poised to start blogging at WildlifeDirect presently, but before that, we at Baraza would like to help them convey this urgent message.
6 January 2009
On 2 January 2009, the headquarters of Garamba National Park, located in Nagero, Democratic Republic of Congo, have been attacked by the Ugandan rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Despite strong resistance by the park rangers together with elements from the Congolese Armed Forces, numerous casualties and material damages have been incurred. A first report mentions 8 people killed, including two park rangers and two wives of wardens, and 13 injured, most of them by bullets. An unconfirmed number of rebels have also been killed or wounded.
Several essential buildings of the headquarters have also been destroyed, along with many items of transport and communications equipment, and stocks of fuel and food rations.
“The headquarters in Nagero are in a state of havoc” mentions the Chief Warden Bernard Iyomi who directed the resistance during the attack and who narrowly escaped death. “The heroic behaviour of our rangers and wardens has prevented an ever heavier death toll”.
It will take several days before these first figures are confirmed, once the management team has completed the final assessment.
Military and humanitarian assistance is being rapidly deployed in order to secure the area and to help the populations displaced by the attack.
“We strongly condemn this attack launched by the LRA, and request the military authorities of the region and the international community to continue their involvement in solving this problem caused by the rebel group for so many years” says Mr Cosma Wilungula, the head of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN).
“Our immediate concern is for the safety and wellbeing of our people, particularly those that are injured. Thereafter we will immediately begin rebuilding the administrative base and staff morale, both of which are essential for the continued management of this important park” adds Mr Peter Fearnhead, the Executive Director of African Parks.
Garamba National Park (NP) is located in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo along the border with Sudan. The park was established in 1938 by a Belgian royal decree as one of the first national parks in Africa, and has been associated with the elephant domestication centre created in the 1920s in Gangala-na-Bodio. The park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Garamba NP is surrounded by three game hunting reserves – Azande to the west, Gangala na Bodio to the south and Mondo Missa to the east. The total area of the Garamba complex is 12427 km², including 4900 km² for the park itself.
The Garamba complex still harbours populations of elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos and numerous other species of ungulates. The presence of the Northern white rhinoceros still needs to be confirmed.
The ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature) is the governmental authority in charge of the management and conservation of protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ICCN controls a network that accounts for about 10% of the total land area of the country, including 7 national parks (among them 5 World Heritage sites) and numerous reserves.
African Parks Network is a private foundation based in Johannesburg (South Africa) and specialised in the management of protected areas. African Parks is currently active in 5 national parks and reserves across Africa. African Parks has officially assumed the management mandate for Garamba National Park on 12 November 2005, in partnership with ICCN.
Besides African Parks, Garamba National Park currently receives financial assistance from the European Union, the Spanish, Italian and Belgian governments, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Technical or scientific support is also provided by UNESCO, IUCN (World Conservation Union), United Nations for the Environment Programme and Fauna & Flora International.
For ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature) :
Pasteur Cosma Wilungula, Administrateur Délégué Général
+243 998 97 6686
For African Parks Network
Dr. José Kalpers, Country coordinator for DRC
+254 737 576232
+32 495 141348