Mr Emmanuel de Merode
Chief Warden, Virunga National Park, Member of the Board – Africa Conservation Fund, and Vice-President – Virunga Fund Inc.
Anthropologist, conservationist and pilot, Emmanuel de Merode worked to control the bushmeat trade and protect endangered wildlife in Central and Eastern Africa. His main focus has been support for African wildlife rangers in remote and difficult national parks and reserves. His work was primarily in the parks of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), working to sustain the national parks through the DRC’s 15-year civil war.
In 2008 he was appointed by the Congolese Government as Director for Virunga National Park. 360 rangers fall under his command and much of his work is focused on protecting the park’s exceptional wildlife, including a critically important population of Mountain Gorillas, Elephants, Okapis and Chimpanzees.
His first breakthrough was to broker an agreement between the Congolese Government and Rebel Leader Laurent Nkunda to spare the Mountain Gorilla Sector of the Park from the rages of the ongoing civil war and to enable government rangers to redeploy in rebel territory. Negotiating the neutral status of environmental and sustainable development imperatives among the warring factions in eastern Congo became a recurring theme in Mr de Merode's approach to establishing Virunga National Park as a stabilising presence in the war-affected Great Lakes Region of Africa. In April 2014, he survived an assassination attempt.