Chief Warden, Emmanuel de Merode shot in an ambush
Emmanuel de Merode, Chief Warden of Africa’s oldest national park – Virunga – has been shot in an ambush while driving to the Congolese national park head quarters in Rumangabo. His vehicle was ambushed by unknown gunmen. The Belgian foreign minister has stated that the country will launch an inquiry into the ambush of its citizen.
de Merode has reportedly been shot a number of times and is currently in a stable but critical condition in hospital. He is in intensive care recovering from the operation to remove the bullets. He is believed to be in the Heal Africa Hospital at Goma.
de Merode was travelling alone at the time and he was rescued by an Congolese army unit who evacuated him to hospital. He is due to be airlifted from Goma to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya when the opportunity arises. de Merode is a member of the Belgian royalty and he was made chief warden of the Virunga National Park in 2008. He has remained at the park throughout the troubles and civil war that has impacted the park and is well respected by the staff that serve under him as well as conservationists across Africa.
WWF Director of Conservation, Lasse Gustavsson, paid tribute to de Merode, “Emmanuel is a dedicated conservationist putting his life on the line every day to protect Virunga National Park, its rangers, its endangered species and the people that depend on the park for their livelihoods. I know how much Emmanuel loves this park. He continues to be a source of inspiration to those around him and I wish him a swift recovery.”
The gunmen remain unknown but the region still contain many militias and rebel groups. Warden Emmanuel de Merode, “was shot in the chest,” North Kivu provincial governor Julien Paluku told AFP, following the attack 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of the capital Goma. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders tweeted his best wishes for De Merode’s swift recovery, adding that “we are opening an enquiry”, into the apparent ambush.