Just over a year ago, Andre Bauma and his adopted daughter Ndakasi huddled together as bombs, rockets and mortars rent the air. Bauma recalls holding Ndakasi and stroking her thick, dark hair. They were by no means the only ones afraid that day; tens of thousands of families either hunkered down or fled the onslaught. What made them unique was that Ndasaki, Bauma’s “daughter,” was one of around 800 mountain gorillas remaining in the world.

The thick forest canopy above the headquarters of the Virunga National Park at Rumangabo gives the impression that this natural paradise is somehow insulated from war. Tree tops part, revealing densely covered plains and, on a clear night, the red glow of Nyiaragongo volcano with the largest lava lake in the world. Birdsong and the occasional bark of a belligerent baboon are usually the only sounds. Until the fighting starts.

A few kilometers south of…

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