The struggle to protect the surviving wildlife species in this nature preserve is complicated by the discovery of oil within its boundaries. Violence has become part of the landscape.NEW YORK (AP) — Days after the director of Africa's oldest national park was shot by gunmen, a documentary about those who protect Virunga National Park from armed poachers and encroaching oil interests premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The debut Thursday night of "Virunga," named after the eastern Congo park, followed the shooting Tuesday of Emmanuel de Merode, the chief warden of Virunga. He is in serious but stable condition after being attacked by three gunmen while driving through the park.
De Merode, a Belgian royal, appears extensively in the documentary, which provides a striking portrait of the violence surrounding the majestic park and its dauntless defenders.
Directed by British filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel, "Virunga" depicts the desperate struggle by de Merode and the park rangers to protect the park and its wildlife from armed militias, rebels and an oil company.
"It's obviously very tragic what's happened, but a lot of people have taken interest in this. It's helped to magnify things," said von Einsiedel, who has been in frequent contact with De Merode while he recovers from gunshot wounds to his abdomen.
"Emmanuel is very conscious of that, too. He's like, 'I'm getting better. Now let's go make a lot of noise about what's happening,'" von Einsiedel said.