Two British tourists and a third person — the driver of the convoy the group was a part of — were kidnapped on May 11th inside Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Telegraphreported that a guard at the park was killed in the attack. The convoy was ambushed as they passed through the Nyiragongo territory, which is located north of the city of Goma. It is not yet known whether the kidnappings and violence are an isolated incident or part of a larger movement, and authorities have not released information on who the perpetrators might be.
Virunga National Park covers a vast area of approximately 3,000 square miles. The park sits on DRC’s border with Uganda and Rwanda and is the largest park in the country. It is one of Africa’s most prominent conservation areas and was the subject of a recent Netflix documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, which chronicled the efforts of wildlife activists to save a group of mountain gorillas who resided in the park. Virunga National Park is home to an estimated 25% of the planet’s mountain gorilla population and, as such, has become increasingly popular among travelers.
There had not been any reports of violence against tourists prior to this incident, but The Telegraph noted that five guards and their driver were reportedly killed by the Mai-Mai Militia last month in a secluded area of the park. According to Condé Nast Traveler, 175 park rangers have been killed within the park in the past twenty years.