Virunga national park chief warden shot | rwanda gorilla permit

Belgian Emmanuel de Merode, Chief Park Warden for the Virunga National Park in Eastern Congo, was ambushed in his car yesterday late afternoon and then shot several times and seriously injured while enroute from Goma to Rumangabo.

While according to the latest information received half an hour ago, he underwent surgery and is stabilized for now, concerns remain over his state of health.

Investigations are now unfolding and speculation is rife in Eastern Congo and across the border in Rwanda, where Emmanuel had many friends and associates working with him on the conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas across the Virunga range as to what prompted this unprecedented attack and which of the many parties with a vested interest in the region could be behind the shooting.

Emmanuel and his team of committed park wardens and rangers have in the past faced up to multiple challenges, from militias as well as from the Congolese national army, using the park as staging posts, to hide and to regroup and there were several incidents reported in the past when ranger posts came under fire and park staff were injured and even killed.

Emmanuel was reportedly alone in the car and the audacity of the ambush and the fact that he was shot several times would suggest that perhaps a score was to be settled over the way how he was managing the park without fears or favours and had always put the safety and security of both his men and the park’s wild animals first, diplomatically negotiating the virtual minefield of parties with vested in interests in mining, logging, oil exploration and poaching

Best wishes are extended to Emmanuel for a swift and full recovery while at the same time condemning this outrageous act in the strongest possible terms.

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Avalanche kills 12 Tourists on Mount Everest | cheap gorilla tours

A high-altitude avalanche Friday killed 12 Sherpa guides and seriously wounded three in the single deadliest accident on Mount Everest, officials said.

Four others are missing, said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti of Nepal’s Tourism Ministry, adding that six people were injured in total.

A group of about 50 people, mostly Nepali Sherpas, were hit by the avalanche at more than 20,000 feet, said Tilak Ram Pandey of the ministry’s mountaineering department.

The avalanche took place just above base camp in the Khumbu Ice Fall.

The climbers were accounted for, Pandey said. “Rescue teams have gone … to look for the missing.”

Before Friday, the deadliest single-day toll was from an accident in May 1996, when eight climbers disappearedwhen a huge storm hit. Their tragic story was chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s bestselling book “Into Thin Air.”

Everest by the numbers

Readying for the climb

Between May 15 and 30 is usually the best window for reaching the 29,028-foot peak.

Climbers and guides had been setting the ropes for the route, acclimating to the climate and preparing the camps along the route when the avalanche hit Friday, said Gordon Janow with Alpine Ascents International in Seattle.

Climbers arrive in April to acclimate to the altitude before heading toward the summit of the world’s highest mountain.

Ethnic Sherpas acts as guides for the mostly foreign clients.

Busiest season

The spring climbing season is the busiest of the year.

About 334 foreign climbers have been given permission to climb Everest over the next couple of months, with an estimated 400 Sherpas helping them, mountaineering official Dipendra Poudel said.

Until the late 1970s, only a handful of climbers reached the top each year. The number topped 100 for the first time in 1993. By 2004, it was more than 300. In 2012, the number was more than 500.

The deadliest year on Everest was 1996, when 15 people died. Another 12 climbers were killed in 2006.

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