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INTERVIEW

“I killed a gorilla and sold the meat to the Congolese army”

Samuel Rwandan ex-militiaman recently returned from DRC

The time I went to do some hunting in Congo, I killed a gorilla, and also I killed some baboon, then after killing them I sold the meat to the Congolese army.

When you go to do hunting, you have to use a gun, you have to kill it by gun, you cannot kill it by machete, and then that time I used one Congolese civilian and then after killing it, you sell meat. That gorilla was male, a silverback. It was up in the trees and when the gorilla came down, I shot at it. I had never seen a gorilla before the war. I used to hear that people come, they pay $500, but I am only hearing – I have never seen those people pay.

a decade later. When the first Congo civil war began in 1996, some 500,000 remained in the area, and poaching for bush- meat as well as logging for charcoal still continues, although it has been managed by different militia groups over time.

The Akagera National Park was reduced to support returnees and survivors, and only 90 000 ha remains of the 245 000 ha originally gazetted; the forests of Gishwati and Mukura were also continuously reduced after 1995. When the war in DRC erupted, refugees also settled on the Rwanda side, and some 55,000 refugees live in permanent camps in Kiziba, Gihembi, Kigeme, Nkamira and Nyagatere.

Attacks in both January and February 2010 on NGO’s and refu- gee camps in DRC have included Rwandan exile FDLR militia. Many militias have forced the refugees to work as slaves in- cluding on burning charcoal in the national parks. There are

The reason why I used to do that hunting, one of the reasons, was some Congolese army used to come and ask me to go and hunt gorillas or other animals and they used to tell me once you get meat we are going to share, you take one part, they take an- other part, or they just give you ammunitions, that’s it.

At the time I left Rwanda I didn’t used to eat wild animals but in Congo, I found the Congolese, they eat all kind of animals, then, me too, I eat. Now I’m in Rwanda, I would not eat wild animals again.

about 900,000 IDPs in North Kivu alone, most of whom live with host families; about 117,000 are in some 47 camps. There are about 2.1 million IDPs in the DRC. The Nyange camp at- tack was reportedly carried out by the FDLR militia. In Mu- hanga, FARDC soldiers took possession of items belonging to an NGO, disrupting aid distribution.

MONUC has played a crucial role in bringing more stability to the region. This success could be strengthened further by strengthening cross-boundary and international law enforce- ment and investigation to reduce and ultimately halt the financ- ing of the militias, hence stopping the continuous influx of arms and looting of resources in the region, so crucial in the conflict. Safeguarding the parks and supplying the refugee camps with basics of fuel and food will be essential, as most of the transport takes place through or next to border posts near parks or involves direct smuggling or exploitation inside the parks.

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