Sad news from Congo, and getting worse:
During three months last fall, militiamen wielding AK-47s also slaughtered thousands of hippos in Lake Edward, whose waters for a while turned red from the blood. In that instance, rangers believe, the slaughter was for money, the meat from one hippo fetching $300 on the open market.
For years, the park rangers themselves have been targeted. More than 150 have been killed in the line of duty during a decade of fighting among armed groups that want to use the park as their base, or by poachers who sell baby gorillas and hippo meat. The rangers also suspect people associated with the country’s $30 million charcoal industry who depend on the park’s trees and would rather Virunga be unprotected.
With only around 700 mountain gorillas left in the world — more than half of them in Virunga National Park — each death equates to something like a massacre. The hippo population in the park has declined from 28,000 to fewer than 350, according to conservation groups.
I don’t have much to add, except that this is beyond my comprehension. There are times when I, as an American, feel sheltered beyond belief. This is one of those times.