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Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo

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Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo
Born1975 or 1976 (age 48–49)[1]
OccupationPark ranger
Years active2003 to present
AwardsGold man environmental award

Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo (born 1976 in Katana, South Kivu, DR Congo) is a park ranger from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was one of the winners of the 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize for his work protecting Virunga National Park.[2] Katembo risked his life to uncover corruption in the attempts by SOCO International to drill for oil in the park. SOCO's presence threatened the survival of the critically endangered mountain gorillas of which an estimated 480 out the remaining 800 live within the park.[3] The video footage he secretly recorded of SOCO contractors was included in the Netflix documentary Virunga.[4] In 2020 it was announced that Leonardo DiCaprio was producing a feature film adaptation of the documentary; the film was being written and produced by Barry Jenkins.[5] As warden, Katembo has also faced illegal charcoal harvesters, armed poachers and multiple militias.[3]

Katembo's parents were Protestant farmers. At age 14 his hopes of becoming a pastor were thwarted when he was forced to join an armed militia. Katembo has stated that, although his time as a child soldier was traumatizing, he learned skills that later helped him protect against threats within the park.[3]


  1. ^ Carrington, Damian (24 April 2017). "From Congo child soldier to award-winning wildlife ranger – a life in danger". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  2. ^ Marshall, Claire (24 April 2017). "Ex-child soldier wins environment prize". BBC News. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Ingber, Sasha (2 May 2017). "This Ex-Child Soldier Went Undercover To Save The Gorillas". NPR. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  4. ^ "Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo". The Goldman Environmental Prize. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  5. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (23 June 2020). "Oscar Winner Barry Jenkins Teams With Leonardo DiCaprio & Netflix On Film Adaptation Of 'Virunga' Documentary". Deadline. Retrieved 10 April 2021.

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