Tales from Virunga is an earthrise special programme about Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), and the courageous rangers who risk their lives daily to protect the park's wildlife.

Two decades of conflict in DR Congo have not only had a tragic impact on the country's human communities, but also on its wildlife.

In 1979, the Virunga National Park was declared a World Heritage site, and was renowned for its exceptional biodiversity.

Since then, the park and its staff have been subjected to a barrage of crises, including an exodus of refugees from neighbouring Rwanda that contributed to the severe destruction of the park's forests, rebel forces occupying the park's headquarters and killing staff during the Kivu conflict, and ongoing attacks by armed poachers.

By 2008, it seemed as if Virunga was in terminal decline, with much of its wildlife destroyed. The hippopotamus population, for example, fell from around 27,000 to just 350 animals.

But the park, which receives ongoing support from the European Union, has recently undergone an impressive revival and animal numbers are slowly starting to recover. Much of this can be put down to the brave, committed and hard-working people who look after the park day-to-day.

In this special programme, Gelareh Darabi meets the park staff who put their lives on the line to protect DR Congo's wildlife.

Source: Al Jazeera