Andre Bauma is a ranger and orphan care-taker at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2014 Virunga: The Movie was directed by Orlando van Einsiedel, which focused on the conservation work of rangers within Virunga National Park and the activity of a British company Soco International, which began exploring for oil within the UNESCO World Heritage Site in April of that year. There are only 800 mountain gorillas left in the world and Bauma treats them like they were his own children, it is truly remarkable to see such a bond between animal and man. He is based at the Senkwekwe Centre which is the only facility in the world that cares for mountain gorilla orphans. The gorillas in this centre were victimised by poachers or animal traffickers and it is likely that they saw their family members getting murdered. Andre’s late father, taught him how to care for animals and he wants to continue his legacy.
My Definition Of Success | For me success is tied to achievements and the hard work it involves. Success gives me pride but most of all, it gives me the courage to continue my work and to become even better at what I do.
Am Driven By | I’ve always loved animals and nature. When I was young, I saw the rangers guiding the tourists in Virunga National Park and I wanted to do the same thing. At school, we were shown films about the park and I dreamed about one day working there. That was the starting point. I am also driven by my fascination of gorillas. In spite of the great and many difficulties the park has encountered, I continue working here and caring for the gorillas because I long to keep learning more about their way of life.
My Highlights | Virunga National Park has gone through many difficult moments. I have personally lost many of my colleagues and others have left their jobs as rangers. But our patience, courage and our sacrifice have enabled us to rise above these difficulties. Now we have many people who support the park and our work – it gives me great joy and pride to see it flourish once again. On a personal note, my children give me great joy. Every morning before I leave the house they ask me to say Hi to the gorillas and this makes me extremely proud.
A Key Talent | First of all, I think endurance is one of my talents because it allows me to continue my work in spite of many difficulties. Secondly, I am disciplined. Thirdly, I work with a team. You shouldn’t try to do things on your own; you need good people around you because strength comes from teamwork.And lastly, you cannot have fear. Fear keeps you from doing your work. My colleagues and I have experienced many difficult moments in Virunga National Park but fear is a bad thing in life and you cannot succumb to it.
Lessons I Have Learnt | We have gone through many difficult moments with regards to the politics of this country. Before, there was corruption, disheartened rangers, lack of money; others quit their jobs. But I learned that if we continue to do our jobs with discipline and courage, we can rise above these challenges.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | Mainly it’s people who inspire me now. Of course, when I was younger I saw films about Virunga National Park at school which inspired me a lot. But I’m very much inspired by Dian Fossey, whose work with gorillas is a great motivation and a source of knowledge.Secondly, our Park Director, Emmanuel de Merode is a great inspiration. He inspires us to work better and to do a better job. Over the past years, many guards have left us and I would like them to see now how the park has changed under his influence and guidance. We can see a lot of changes in our region already, and the benefits of Virunga National Park will only become greater.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I would like to see the Senkwekwe Centre become an educational center for young children and students with an interest in learning about nature, conservation and our gorillas. Children are the future and they will one day become responsible for the protection and the survival of Virunga National Park. I would also like to see our orphan mountain gorillas reproduce – that would be a great joy for me!If I could reach those two goals in my life, that would give me great pride.
On Inspiring Others | At the moment I have 3 people working for me: Patrick, Richard and Matthieu. I worked with Patrick and Richard in the Mikeno sector (the central sector of Virunga National Park) quite a few years ago. It was the courage I saw inside of them that lead me to ask them to start working with me at the Senkwekwe Centre. Matthieu, on the other hand, is new to our team and started working at the Senkwekwe Centre 4 months ago.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | Education is a big part of that. I would like the people who replace me to do an even better job at nature conservation and I hope that they can continue to protect the gorillas.