The Environmental Crime Crisis

trade of charcoal and timber. 113 The FDLR controls portions of the park and regularly conduct operations from the area. Since 2011 the FDLR have been responsible for the deaths of 20 rangers in the park. The latest attack, carried out in January 2014, killed one ranger and injured two others. 114 News reports suggest the attack was revenge for increased patrolling of charcoal production areas. 115 The Okapi Wildlife Reserve lies within the Ituri forest in north-east DRC, near the borders with South Sudan and Uganda. The site is infamous for a particularly destructive attack by Mai-Mai “Morgan” in 2012. Mai-Mai Morgan poaches elephants, mines for gold and other materials in the park, and has committed serious human rights abuses including forced porterage, mass rape, kidnapping for ransom, sex slavery, and murder. 116 The group attacked the park headquarters killing at least three people and 14 highly endangered okapi in revenge for rangers’ efforts to disrupt their illegal activities in the park. 117

Virunga National Park, on the border with Uganda and Rwanda, was severely impacted by the Rwandan genocide and on-going refugee crisis. It served as the battleground in the Kivu War and continues to support multiple armed groups who exploit the park’s forest and wildlife resources. The multitude of military groups operating in this region makes Virunga one of the most dangerous parks in the DRC. The groups include the FDLR, URDC, various Mai-Mai groups, and, until their disbandment in 2013, the M23. The charcoal trade is one of many lucrative illicit trades in the park, which also include timber extraction, gold mining, and marijuana cultivation. 112 Nearly two hundred rangers have been killed in the park since 1996. In 2008, the rangers’ headquarters in the park was attacked by National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) militants. One year earlier, militants murdered seven of the park’s endangered Mountain gorillas in retaliation for attempts to disrupt illicit production and


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