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The anti-poaching ranger who went viral last year after he posed for a selfie with a pair of gorillas has paid tribute to 13 colleagues who were killed in an ambush.
Mathieu Shamavu hit the headlines in April 2019 with his candid snap alongside two huge gorillas he and his fellow conservationists were protecting at Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, he has now offered his condolences to those affected by the brutal attack on a dozen of his fellow rangers and one driver last month.
Taking to Twitter, Mr Shamavu wrote (translated from French): "We are united, and we will always be strong even during the moment. We hope for tomorrow."
It comes after a spokesperson for Virunga National Park, in the east of the DRC, confirmed that rangers from the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) and one civilian were murdered.
Nous sommes unis, et nous serons toujours Fort :muscle: même pendant le moment :persevere::confounded::tired_face::sob:
Ce nous l'espoir de demain pic.twitter.com/4jwibHclNe
- [email protected] ma priorité (@MunguikoShamavu) May 7, 2020
In a statement released by Virunga National Park, it said the group was ambushed by members of a militant group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
It read: "It is with great sadness that the Congolese Institute of the Conservation of Nature confirmed the identities of the Virunga Park Rangers and employees who tragically lost their lives after an attack on Friday. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims, as well as with the animals whom they protected.
ABEDI IYALU Khadafi, Ranger, aged 23 years
ANUARI BIHIRA Lumumba, Ranger, aged 27 years
BADI MUKANDAMA Djamali, Ranger, aged 27 years
FAZILI JUSTIN Junior, Ranger, aged 29 years
KAMBALE MUTSOMANI Jean-Louis, Ranger, aged 31 years
KAMBALE TEREMUKA Jules, Ranger, aged 28 years
KASOLE JANVIER Joseph, Ranger, aged 30 years
MASUMBUKO MALEKANI Ruphin, Driver, aged 40 years
MUGISHO KULONDWA Augustin, Ranger, aged 27 years
MUHINDO ISEVIHANGO Jeannot, Ranger, aged 30 years
MUHINDO KATEMBO Jacques, Ranger, aged 29 years
NDAGIJIMANA NDAHOBARI Héritier, Ranger, aged 27 years
PALUKU KALONDERO Moïse, Ranger, aged 30 years
1/2 Virunga would like to extend our sincerest gratitude for the outpouring of love & positivity you have shown to us during this heart-wrenching time. We, along with the families of the rangers & the community, are humbled & encouraged by your messages of sympathy & support.
- Virunga NationalPark (@gorillacd) April 25, 2020
"Initial investigations indicate that the rangers were on their way back to their headwarters when they encountered a civilian vehicle that had been attacked and subsequently came under a ferociously violent and sustained ambush. We can confirm that the perpetrators of this attack were the armed group 'FDLR-FOCA'.
Adding: "Our thoughts and prayers are tonight with the families and friends of all the victims, including the innocent civilians, as well as the injured rangers."
In a later post, the group confirmed that all 13 people had now been buried.
It read: "Yesterday (27 April), we held the funerals of the rangers and driver killed in last week's devastating attack on the park."
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