We need your help. The charcoal trade inside our park forests must be eradicated and this requires the funding of several anti-charcoal operations needed soon.
The illegal charcoal business is one of the greatest issues Virunga faces, largely kept in place by FDLR Rwandan militia, and directly connected to the protection of the mountain gorillas. Not only is precious forest and habitat destroyed to make charcoal, but past events have shown that both gorillas and rangers can get caught in the crossfire of a battle for this fuel source. At the end of 2009, a huge push took place to remove the charcoal business from the forests of southern Virunga. It was largely successful, but not permanent.
We are again trying to stop the rising production of charcoal and destruction of the forests. You may recall that in April, an FDLR ambush on a patrol killed Magayane, one of our rangers. Following this tragic loss, we planned and executed a fairly successful operation to find and destroy as many charcoal kilns as possible.
Now it is becoming necessary to continue with several more operations to stop those that remain. The smoke can be seen now coming up through the trees – the sign of burning wood from kilns. For security reasons, we can’t tell you when or where the operation will be, but will post a report when it is completed.
Operational costs for the park are running thin. We need your help to carry out these additional operations that logistically cost more, including additional rangers transported in from other sections of the park, extra rations, clean water, and ponchos for the 5-8 days. Extra tents are needed as the men will have to sleep under tarps in the forest without them. The 60-100 rangers work extremely hard during these campaigns, rising at 2 am, getting into positions, and moving into the forest at day break, patrolling and searching until dark for up to 8 days.
Please consider supporting the park by donating toward this upcoming anti-charcoal operation which we estimate will cost approximately $2900. To the right of this blog post, you can see a list of donation options. At the bottom of the “One-Time” donation list, click on “Anti-Charcoal Campaign” to help us with this specific project.
Thank you again for all the incredible support that you, our readers, have given to the park!