I am very sorry to report that another member of our ranger staff has been killed. Ranger Kasereka Kipako, age 34, was ambushed at his patrol post while his fellow rangers were out on a morning patrol. We are still investigating the incident, but the evidence points to Mai-Mai militia being the perpetrators of the attack. The fact that Kasereka’s weapon was not taken and the patrol post not looted suggest that he managed to fight off his attackers before dying from his wounds.
Kasereka was a family man like most Virunga rangers. Tragically, he leaves behind his pregnant wife, Solange, and three children. Kasereka first started out as a woodworker and then transitioned into law enforcement with the military. We welcomed him into the Virunga ranks in 2010 and are incredibly sad to have lost him.
I flew up to northern Virunga upon hearing the news and had a very emotional meeting with Solange and the children. Although there is no way for anyone to ease their pain, I assured Solange that Virunga takes care of its own and that we will look after her and her young family. Our heartfelt thanks go out to The Thin Green Line Foundation for immediately stepping up with a donation to help assist Kasereka’s family over the next few years. We still need to raise money to cover the cost of the funeral and would like to give Solange a sum of money to help her and her children during this difficult time. If you are in a position to help, we would welcome your support.
Below are images from the memorial service. I think you will agree these images speak for themselves.