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Unsung heroes: the life of a wildlife ranger in the Congo

November 03, 2011
"If, for example, today I receive the instruction to follow poachers in the forest, I see such situations as if either the poacher or I will have to leave this world,"
- Bunda Bokitsi, chief guard of the Etate Patrol Post for Salonga National Park

The effort to save wildlife from destruction worldwide has many heroes. Some receive accolades for their work, but others live in obscurity, doing good—sometimes even dangerous—work everyday with little recognition.

These are not scientists or big-name conservationists, but wildlife rangers, NGO staff members, and low level officials. One of these conservation heroes is Bunda Bokitsi, chief guard of the Etate Patrol Post for Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In a nation known for a prolonged civil war, desperate poverty, and corruption—as well as an astounding natural heritage—Bunda Bokitsi works everyday to secure Salonga National Park from poachers, bushmeat hunters, and trappers. In his years of service as a wildlife ranger, and now chief guard, Bokitsi has not only put his life on the line, but has also been falsely imprisoned and even tortured.

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