Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

For years, Anthony Caere, an anti-poaching pilot at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), peered through the windows of his helicopter to see a landscape mostly devoid of wildlife. But now, Virunga is coming back to life. A herd of about 580 savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) recently crossed over from Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park, and they appear to be staying put. “Now not only are we seeing the elephants, which is an unbelievable sight from above, but we’re noticing the impact of such a big herd on the park,” Caere said in a statement. “They’re restoring everything back to what it was 50 years ago and doing [it] so much faster than we could have imagined. If the elephants continue to stay here in these numbers, this place will look totally different in just a few years.” Savanna elephants roaming through Virunga National Park. Image by Virunga National Park. These returning elephants join an existing population of about 120 elephants already in the park, forming a cumulative group of approximately 700 individuals. Virunga National Park, a 790,000-hectare (2-million-acre) stretch of land on the eastern border of the DRC, is known for its rich diversity of habitats and rare wildlife — but also for its violent history. For decades, anti-government rebels and local militia groups have besieged the park, waging war with Virunga’s team of about 700 rangers tasked with protecting the park and its visitors. Virunga experienced one of its deadliest assaults this past April…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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