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Giving park guards and gorillas a fighting chance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

January 1, 2000

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s five World Heritage sites are home to some of the world’s last remaining populations of northern white rhinos and mountain gorillas—of which only an estimated 700 remain in the wild. 

In 1999, in an unprecedented move to preserve biodiversity and protect natural World Heritage, we made a historic contribution of $2.9 million to help monitor biodiversity, support surrounding communities and protect plants and animals within these sites. 

This rapid, flexible funding was the first contribution of its kind from the international community and delivered salary replacement payments to more than 1,000 park rangers, enabling them to continue surveillance activities during the height of the conflict.

As the country’s political situation has worsened and additional conservation efforts have been needed, we provided an additional $1.4 million, plus $4.4 million in partner funding after the first phase jointly contributed by the UN Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, Belgian Government and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. And in the summer of 2007, in response to renewed violence against the gorillas in Virunga, we partnered with Fauna & Flora International and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to provide emergency support through our Rapid Response Facility.

Our contributions made basic training programs possible for more than 450 park rangers in 2005-2006. These eight-week camps comprised both conservation theory and practical lessons such as fire drills and park security operations, patrolling protocol, defensive maneuvers, wildlife laws and basic law enforcement.

While sustained violence and social strife in the DRC continue to threaten the parks’ local communities, endangered animals and precious natural resources, we are proud to have set the bar for other large donors to prevent the destruction of the parks’ forests and attacks on the endangered animals.

Editor's Note: Our Friends of World Heritage and World Heritage Alliance Initiatives culminated in 2010 after four years of successful collaborations.