National Geographic : 2016 Jul
Battle for virunga 61 groups that have ravaged and occupied Virunga for two decades. To these young men raised in poverty, that Virunga’s tremendously fertile soil, its trees, and its creatures should be protected by law for the viewing pleasure of well-off tourists struck them as a grave injustice. They were swept into a militia known as M23, which touted a host of grievances against the corrupt government but in the meantime was content to loot and rape its way through a slice of eastern Congo near the park’s southern sector. By the end of 2013, after more than a year and a half of fighting, the Con- golese Army, backed by United Nations troops, routed M23. Among the militia’s foot soldiers deemed salvageable, by UN peacekeepers and park officials, were these seven. The work on the Bukima road was harder and less profitable than looting. But the former rebels kept at it. Kambale was impressed. He talked to them from time to time. “Before now, all you were creating was insecurity in the re- gion,” he would say. “Now you’re building this road. It’s a start. From here you can go on to do other things. But you can’t progress if there’s no security. So tell that to your friends. Tell them to leave their armed groups. Because that is not life. This”—and he would gesture toward the road—“is the beginning of life.” Tune in at 8 p.m . on Sunday, June 26, to National Geographic Channel’s Explorer series episode Battle for Virunga.