Clash between armed guards and indigenous Pygmies at gorilla sanctuary leaves one dead

Local tribe armed with machetes, bows and arrows takes on gun-toting rangers

Tim Wyatt
Saturday 20 July 2019 16:18
Comments
Many human outbreaks have been traced to eating animal carcasses
Many human outbreaks have been traced to eating animal carcasses

A violent confrontation between armed guards and an indigenous Pygmy tribe at a national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has left one person dead and 14 others injured.

The clash happened near the Kahuzi Biega park, famous as a sanctuary for endangered Eastern lowland gorillas, on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Unesco heritage site said one of its conservation patrols was chasing two poachers when it was ambushed “by Pygmies armed with machetes and bows and arrows”.

The guards, armed with guns, shot back at the Pygmies, killing one and injuring another.

Hubert Mulongoy, the park spokesman, said 13 park wardens were hurt in the fight, three of them seriously.

“One of the seriously injured had his fingers severed by a machete,” Mr Mulongoy added.

There has been growing tension between the Pygmies and park authorities in recent months.

In April, another park ranger was killed during a confrontation, one day after a Pygmy had died in a separate incident.

The Pygmies are reportedly angry about being denied access to the national park, which is named after two extinct volcanoes lying within its 6,000 sq km range.

Park rangers claim the indigenous peoples have been illegally entering the boundaries of Kahuzi Biega since last year and carrying out deforestation.

Independent Minds Events: get involved in the news agenda

The national park is one of the DRC’s leading tourist attractions and home to the last remaining wild population of Eastern lowland gorillas in the world.

But violent confrontations inside national parks are not uncommon in the DRC, which has been afflicted by conflict and political instability for decades.

In March, a ranger was killed in Virunga national park, just weeks after the North Kivu province sanctuary was re-opened to tourists.

Two British tourists were kidnapped with their driver while exploring Virunga last summer. A park ranger who was travelling with them was killed during the abduction.

After being briefly held hostage the pair were released.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in