Conservation on the Ground in the Congo
Happy Hollow Park and Zoo™ and the San José Park Rangers have established a commitment to work with a group of Park Rangers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) called the Advance Force.
The Advance Force is the frontline of protection for the last remaining populations of Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park (in the DRC) and most recently, the last remaining populations of hippos in the Congo. The 49 Park Rangers that make up the Advance Force are poorly-supplied and paid (Sadly, they hadn't been paid a salary in over nine years!) - yet they continue to do their best to defend the Virunga National Park, home to the highly-endangered mountain gorillas.
There are approximately 700 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world, located in Virunga National Park and Bwindi National Park in Uganda. Less than two decades ago, the hippo count was over 22 thousand hippos, mostly along Lake Edward. A new aerial count has shown that years of poaching and the recent frenzied slaughter of hippos have decimated one of the most important hippo populations in the world to less than 400 animals. The local communities around Lake Edward and Virunga are also being affected by the decimation of the hippos - hippo dung helps to sustain the lake's fish and in recent years, as the hippos have declined, so have the tilapia fish populations and fisherman's catches have plummeted.
Park Rangers are pitted against well-armed professional poachers hunting for ivory and bushmeat, and bands of rebel insurgents. Over the last 10 years, 97 Rangers have died in the line of duty.
Happy Hollow is working with Wildlife Direct, a Congo-based conservation group founded by Dr. Richard Leaky, to purchase and deliver the Park Rangers desperately needed equipment - boots and uniforms, tents and food rations. Happy Hollow recently sent over $1500, and the equipment was immediately deployed to the field where it had a profound impact on the Rangers by boosting their morale and increasing their ability to perform their jobs.
Seeing the impact that this donation has made, and the critical equipment needed to protect the animals of Congo, Happy Hollow Park and Zoo™ and the San José Park Rangers are compelled to do more. The Rangers have held bake sales and the Happy Hollow Staff have raised funds to support the Rangers and their critical work.
Recent Thanks from Elie Mundima Nkuba,
the Commander of the Advance Force
It is so good to hear from you all at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. Thank you so much for all that you are doing to help the work that we are doing here in Virunga National Park. Words cannot express my gratitude. It brings me so much hope inside to think that together we can change the situation here in the Park and safeguard the future of the Mountain Gorillas as well as all of the other animals who so desperately need our help. It brings much courage to both me and my men. We never thought that we would get such help so quickly.
We are forever grateful.