Two wildlife rangers killed by poachers in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Elephant poachers have killed two wildlife rangers in a shootout in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reports African Parks, a not-for-profit conservation group that manages 10 protected areas across Africa in partnership with governments and local communities.
While out patrolling on 11 April, ranger Joël Meriko Ari and Sgt Gerome Bolimola Afokao of the DRC armed forces heard gunshots, African Parks reported. The patrol unit followed signs and tracks until they discovered a group of six poachers who were chopping up a freshly slaughtered elephant carcass.
A shootout followed, in which both Ari and Afokao were fatally shot. There were also casualties among the poachers, but details were not disclosed.
Ari, 27, leaves behind a wife and two sons, while Afokao leaves behind a wife and nine children.
African Parks said they had observed “significant poaching activity” during the days preceding the shooting. Aerial surveillance had identified the poachers’ camp, and they had recorded carcasses of nine elephants.
“IUCN deplores the deaths of rangers Joël Meriko Ari and Sgt Bolimola Afokao of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo … and shares its most profound condolences with their families,” the International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a statement.