At just 43 years of age, a ranger in charge of looking after the Upemba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo was brutally killed by the Mai-Mai militia.
The incident occurred on December 16, and the people working close to Atamato Madrandele explain that he was ambushed and murdered while he was on his way back to the park's headquarters from a mission.
Seeing how Atamato Mandradele was the chief warden of the Upemba National Park, it is quite likely that the group of people who attacked and killed him hoped that his death would somehow make it easier for them to carry out illegal hunting activities in this part of Congo.
Madrandele had a daughter and a son, both of whom are to attend his funeral this coming Saturday.
Seeing how these children now have nobody except their mother to support them, several conservationists are asking that those who can lend them a helping hand do so.
Mongabay quotes the official Facebook page for the Upemba Conservation Project, which reads as follows: “Atamato was driving his motorcycle from Kiubo to Lusinga when he encountered an ambush by a group of Mai-Mai and was shot.”
Confirming the ranger’s death, an announcement made by those in charge of running the Virunga National Park says that, “We’ve just received the tragic news that Atama, who was our Sector Warden for the [Northern] Sector of Virunga until last year, was murdered by Mai Mai militias as he was returning on a motorbike back to his park headquarters at Upemba National Park.”
This chief warden was not the first ranger to have been killed in Congo by such groups of people. Thus, it seems that over 120 others have been killed while out on patrol in Congo's national parks over the past decade.
Local authorities are presently investigating the exact circumstances in which Atamato Mandradele lost his life, yet odds are that their investigation will fail to lead to the culprits' being arrested and prosecuted.