Without spoiling the plot of the film, Virunga goes deep undercover and exposes severe corruption in the DRC and in Virunga National Park that endangers the future of mountain gorillas and the entirety of this world heritage site. The emotion of seeing Emmanuel, one of the key protagonists in this amazing documentary, was like watching Lawrence of Arabia.
Since our efforts in 2007, Peter went on to live in constant danger in his day job as a journalist on assignment on some of the world's most dangerous beats. But of all of the many protagonists in Virunga, no one is more heroic than Emmanuel. Emmanuel went on to become the head of Virunga where, as the documentary captures in real time, he stands his ground as the park is being invaded by the warlords and their armies.
This is not as unusual as it should be. Over the past fifteen years, about 150 park rangers have been killed protecting the mountain gorillas. Like all park rangers, Emmanuel lives each day with the threat of being a casualty of the corrupt corporate interests, war lords and poachers and, yes, even to his own government, who he defied by risking his life for a higher cause.
We all have hopes and dreams; my hope is that some day soon I can join up with Emmanuel and Peter for a reunion expedition back into the Virunga National Park perhaps when it is no longer the heart of darkness. Steven Pinker has said that the world is safer now than any time in human history; there are fewer violent deaths than ever before. Yet the world still feels like a very dangerous place. I guess it depends on whom you know and what they do for a living. But we often take for granted the inherent risks and discount the dangers for those truly trying to make the world a better place.