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The big elephant herds, for which the Garamba National Park is famous, makes it an ongoing target for well-organised, well-armed and well-equipped poaching groups.

© David  Santiago Garcia/ African Parks
© David Santiago Garcia/ African Parks

It is with deep regret that African Parks announces the death of three Garamba rangers: Anselme Kimbesa Muhindo, Andre Gada Migifuloyo and Djuma Adalu Uweko, and Colonel Jacques Sukamate Lusengo, a member of  the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), who was assisting with patrols. The four men leave their wives and a total of 14 children.

The incident occurred when the men, all members of a 10-man Garamba patrol team, tracked the collar of a poached elephant to a poachers’ camp in the western Azande hunting area. An exchange of fire ensued, during which the out-numbered Garamba unit was forced to disperse.

The African Parks helicopter that was part of the operation was immediately deployed to help rescue the rangers. Despite coming under fire it managed to retrieve six members of the patrol unit and drop them at a safe area where they re-grouped. Two men were flown back to the park headquarters at Nagero, one of whom had sustained injuries.  The helicopter took multiple hits and was unable to fly back for the remaining men. Four rangers managed to walk to the closest road, a two day walk from the site of the attack and yesterday, the bodies of the remaining four men were discovered when a reinforced patrol team managed to access the site of the incident.

Despite extensive efforts by the Garamba park management team to elicit reinforcements from other international forces in the region in order to help retrieve the four missing men, and track and apprehend the poachers, very little support or assistance was forthcoming. Some logistical help was provided by MONUSCO to retrieve the bodies of the four men.

“Our sincere condolences go to the families of the four men who tragically lost their loved ones while they were bravely eliminating the scourge of elephant poaching from Garamba National Park,” said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks. “This brings to eight the number of people who have lost their lives in Garamba in 2015 alone.”

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