"Every morning we head into the forest with fear in our stomachs, but with courage and passion to protect the gorillas," says Innocent Mburanumwe, the main gamekeeper in the park's southern sector who is heading up a patrol armed with Kalashnikovs and a heavy machine gun.
The game wardens have paid a heavy price to protect Virunga park since the start of the conflict in 1996: around 130 of them have died, he says.
Coupled with other official efforts, the sacrifice of these men has helped more than quadruple the number of mountain gorillas: in 10 years their numbers have grown from 200 to 880, according to the last census in July, he says.
Mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, Africa's oldest nature reserve, face the same threats as their human neighbours: armed violence which has ravaged the province of North Kivu for over two decades (AFP Photo/Peter Martell)
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