Ranger Rachel, the hero­ine who died in bid to save Bri­tons from jun­gle ban­dits

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Comment - By Bar­bara Jones and Si­mon Mur­phy

THIS is the first pic­ture of the fe­male park ranger who died try­ing to pro­tect two British tourists as they were kid­napped by jun­gle ban­dits in the Congo.

Rachel Ka­tumwa, 25, was shot dead at the Virunga Na­tional Park, a renowned sanc­tu­ary for go­ril­las. De­scribed as ‘a de­voted con­ser­va­tion­ist’, she is un­der­stood to be the first fe­male ranger to be killed in the re­mote rain­for­est, which has been plagued by violence.

The hol­i­day­mak­ers – a cou­ple in their 40s or 50s who have not yet been named – were vis­it­ing the park on Fri­day with Ms Ka­tumwa and their Con­golese driver when they were am­bushed by the armed gang.

The Bri­tons had been on their way to hike up Mount Nyi­ragongo. Tourists trek for around six hours to the 11,380ft sum­mit, which holds the world’s largest lava lake.

Last night, sol­diers and rangers were scour­ing the area to lo­cate the Bri­tons and their driver. The kid­nap­pers are said to have is­sued a £147,000 ran­som de­mand.

Faustin Muhindo, a moun­tain guide who takes tourists to the vol­cano’s sum­mit, said: ‘Their ve­hi­cle was am­bushed and Rachel was shot. The tourists and the driver were taken some­where into the for­est.

‘Rachel was to­tally ded­i­cated to our con­ser­va­tion work with the go­ril­las and other wildlife. She was mar­ried to her job.’

He said the tourists were stay­ing at Mikeno, a lux­ury thatched lodge in­side Virunga where guests pay £350 a night to stay in bun­ga­lows made of lava stone and ma­hogany.

One park em­ployee said Miss Ka­tumwa was ‘a de­voted con­ser­va­tion­ist who died in the line of duty’, adding: ‘Her only thought would have been the safety and se­cu­rity of vis­i­tors.’

A For­eign Of­fice spokesman said: ‘Our staff are pro­vid­ing sup­port to the fam­i­lies.’

Up to 175 rangers have been killed pro­tect­ing Virunga and the For­eign Of­fice warns trav­ellers not to visit the re­gion.

DE­VOTED TO HER JOB: Rachel Ka­tumwa in her park ranger uni­form

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