I have been in my current job since 2003 and with ICCN for 9 years. My name, Bichamakara, actually means “forbid charcoal” in the KinyaBwisha language. So my job is to protect the park and to work with the local communities to stop illegal charcoal production. In addition to stopping illegal charcoal, I have to intervene when animals leave the park and eat the crops of the local villagers. Buffaloes, elephants and gorillas are the main animals that do this. Naturally, the Rugendo family of mountain gorillas does this because they are so habituated to humans.
So, we often try to coerce the animals to go back into the park, and we try and educate the local communities about the importance of preserving our park and its wildlife. When peace and stability finally exist in the Kivus, tourism will be one of the major sources of revenue for the local populations. We need to protect Virunga and its wildlife so that tourism can become a reality.
There are 13 rangers on my team (including me) and there are 12 patrol posts in the southern sector of Virunga National Park. We are spread very thin, but we try our best to protect the park.
I head up briquette training and community relations in Rumangabo, and the surrounding area. This means that I work with the communities that live around the Gorilla Sector and in the southern sector of Virunga National Park.