RUMANGABO, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - NOVEMBER 24: ICCN Director of Virunga National Park Emmanuel De Merode photographed at Rumangabo Ranger Headquarters, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo on November 24, 2008. De Merode is a tireless and courageous advocate of conservation in the DRC and has been working in the Congo since 1992. De Merode is also a Prince of Belgium and is a direct descendant of Felix De Merode who led the Belguim rebellion of 1830. After a succesful campaign Felix decline the title of King of Belguim and Leopold the 1st came to power in Belguim. The Gorilla Sector of the Park has been occupied by the rebel movement CNDP under rebel Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda. Since September 2007 no ICCN Ranger has set foot in this sector, almost all had to flee the fighting and it has not been safe to return. Recent violence in the region has seen CNDP extend its power in the region and it now controls over 50% of the park and all of the Southern section. Emmanuel De Merode, the Director of Virunga National Park, has performed some remarkable diplomacy since the recent fighting and has succesfully negotiated with CNDP and General Nkunda to return the ICCN Rangers to the Park. This is a fragile process but so far 120 courageous Rangers are back at the Southern Headquarters at Rumangabo and there is a camp in the Gorilla Sector at Bukima which has begun a Gorilla census to determine the effects of the war on the mountain Gorilla population. It is a remarkable case of conservation winning out over politics. The DRC had just over 200 of the extremely rare mountain Gorillas, of which there are only 680 in the world. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Le prince Emmanuel de Mérode a été promu au rang de Grand officier de l’Ordre de Léopold par le roi des Belges à l’occasion de la Fête nationale. Le prince s’occupe du parc des Virunga au Congo. Il avait été victime l’an dernier d’une embuscade destinée à l’assassiner. (Copyright photo : Getty images