VIRUNGA (2014) – A Netflix Documentary
Netflix documentary VIRUNGA highlights the ongoing struggle to protect the World Heritage Site, the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is home to the last of the mountain gorillas on this planet, only 800 remain, as well as other animals including elephants, hippos and antelope. Over 130 park rangers have died protecting the park from poachers and rebels and the current park rangers continue to put themselves at risk in order to protect the park.
The biggest concern for the Virunga National Park is that the government have agreed to let a British oil company called SOCO dig for oil under the Virunga National Park and Lake Edward, the latter of which is a vital source of income for the fisherman of the villages that line the lake. If this happens, Virunga will be declassified as a National Park and the rangers will no longer be able to protect the animals, especially the endangered gorillas, that reside there.
Beautifully shot and edited, VIRUNGA is a stunning documentary to watch. The documentary really highlights the beauty of the national park and the important role the rangers play, but also shows the traumatising dangers that the animals, Park Rangers and residents are forced to endure.
Throughout the documentary, we get to see the orphaned gorillas who’s parents were killed by poachers. Their stories of how they ended up at the orphanage are tragic and one of the gorillas bears more than mental scars. The film also gives an in depth look at the human elements and how the pro-SOCO supporters are attempting to turn some of the park’s rangers. A young French journalist is covering the war in Congo between the government and the rebels, and also puts together a report on SOCO and their activities by secretly filming meetings with some of SOCO’s workers. It’s frightening stuff at times but the information that is revealed in these meetings is not surprising. Greed and the human race have a lot to answer for and wherever there is oil or minerals, someone looking to profit will be nearby.
VIRUNGA is a heartbreaking watch but it is important to watch to see what is happening in the Congo. This documentary has done amazing things to bring the problems to the surface and show viewers like me just what it is like over there, from the war between the M23 rebels and the Congolese army to the poachers who think nothing of killing gorillas and cutting off an elephant’s head to claim their ivory tusks. It’s disgusting and horrifying that this is going on in the world and it must be utterly terrifying for those living there. Even the rangers’ lives are in danger each and every day through simply doing their job to protect the animals, people and the park, protecting the one last bit of beauty and freedom they have. One ranger talks about he may not seen his young son grow up and that any day he may be killed. This is the life the rangers face but they accept it as they know their job to protect Virunga National Park is of such an importance.
VIRUNGA is an eye-opener and everyone should watch it. It should even be shown in schools to educate our youngsters and to show that even though you might not see it, horrors like this are happening in our world.