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‘Jungle police’ risking their lives for endangered gorillas in the DR Congo

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The rangers of Kahuzi-Biega National Park take part in a parade every morning before setting out to do their jobs guarding one of the world’s most critically endangered gorillas.

The parade is aimed at bolstering discipline and morale in a group of men and women who know that every time they step into the jungle their lives are at risk.

Earlier this month, five rangers and a staff driver were killed during an ambush at the sister operation in the Virunga National Park. The risk is real – not just to the rangers trying to protect the gorillas but also to the primates themselves.




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Gorillas hunted for meat for the hungry

Multiple conflicts which have stretched over decades in the DR Congo have led to a catastrophic collapse in the population of the world’s largest primate – a gorilla subspecies which lives in the forests in the east of the country.

It’s estimated only a few thousand of the Grauer’s gorilla exist in the wild – and the recent spike in unrest in this troubled part of the world threatens to put the remaining few at further risk.

The rangers at Kahuzi-Biega park in Congo
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Some of the rangers at Kahuzi-Biega Park used to be poachers

Despite attempts to drive out militia groups and poachers from the sprawling parks, it is nigh impossible to do so given the size of them (more than twice the size of Luxembourg), while unrest persists and lack of funding continues.

Virunga is considered the well-to-do Park after a documentary led to a large injection of financial help. Kahuzi-Biega views itself as the poorer cousin.

“We need tourists to come so we can generate wealth, offer more jobs and pay our rangers better,” Gloria Mwenge, manager of tourism at Kahuzi-Biega Park, tells Sky News.

“Please tell people we need them to come and visit.”

Without the rangers, the gorillas are prey to poachers or militia
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Without the rangers, the gorillas are prey to poachers or militia groups

Without the rangers, the gorillas are prey to poachers or militia – who turn to the gorillas as a source of food or to raise money to fund their fighting operations.

The primates also stand in the way of mining operations in the jungle by militia groups who are trying to, once again, find ways of raising cash for warfare. The rangers are seen as the ‘jungle police’, trying to halt the mining and poaching. They also risk being kidnapped by various militia who’ve turned to asking for ransoms as an alternative way of getting money.

It is estimated only a few thousand of the Grauer's gorilla exist in the wild
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While millions in the DR Congo go hungry, the gorillas will continue to be a source of food

The recent surge in violence in a country described by the United Nations as one of the most complex and longest-running humanitarian crises has impacted on the Lowland gorilla population too. They are now considered critically endangered meaning they are one step away from becoming extinct in the wild.

Whilst millions in the DR Congo go hungry, the gorillas will continue to be a source of food for the starving.

One former poacher told Sky News: “When we used to catch and kill the gorilla, it would feed about 150 people in the community.”

Although he and his group of four friends have all given up poaching, they’re still going hungry. They all work on a newly-established coffee plantation on the edge of the Kahuzi-Biega Park but right now, they’re working without salaries.

The rangers don't make enough to buy water during their shift
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The rangers don’t make enough to buy water during their shift

They’ve been promised cash only once the coffee production begins to yield results. It’s a tenuous living fraught with problems but with a slither of hope.

The rangers meanwhile are also struggling. The ones we spoke to told us they get paid about $50 (£35) a month. It’s a job which makes them feel lucky but it’s still horribly hard to survive on that pitiful amount.

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The rangers we trekked with didn’t even have enough cash to buy themselves drinking water to carry during our hours hacking through thick, wild foliage to try to spot the gorillas.

But Cirimwami Lambert, the chief guide, told us: “We have to protect them, we cannot risk them getting ill.”

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Ex-traffic cop who claims to be reincarnation of Jesus arrested in Russia | World News

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A former traffic police officer who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus has been arrested by Russian security forces.

Prominent mystic Sergei Torop and other leaders of the Church of the Last Testament sect were held in a remote part of Siberia on Tuesday.

They are accused of “damaging their followers’ health”.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement that the religious group had used psychological pressure to extract money from its followers and caused serious harm to their health.

Sergei Torop
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The cult leader is a former traffic policeman

Torop, known to his followers as Vissarion, set up the Church of the Last Testament in the Krasnoyarsk region in 1991, the year the Soviet Union broke up.

The operation to detain him, as well as group leaders Vadim Redkin and Vladimir Vedernikov, involved the police as well as members of the Federal Security Service.

The men could face up to 12 years in jail if found guilty, the RIA news agency reported.

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Luis Suarez faces investigation after ‘cheating’ on Italian citizenship test | World News

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Police in Italy have opened an investigation after Luis Suarez, one of the most controversial players in world football, was accused of cheating on his Italian citizenship test ahead of a move to the country.

The Uruguayan, who has previously faced bans for biting opponents and making racist remarks, took the exam in Perugia last week to facilitate a transfer from Barcelona to Juventus.

But prosecutors allege the former Liverpool striker, 33, knew what was going to be in the paper and that his mark had already been decided.

Luis Suarez leaves the University for Foreigners in Perugia after taking an Italian citizenship test
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Luis Suarez leaves the University for Foreigners in Perugia after taking an Italian citizenship test

The Perugia public prosecutor’s office said in a statement: “Some irregularities have emerged in the exam of certification of Italian, sat on September 17 by Uruguayan football player Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz, needed to obtain the Italian citizenship.

“From the investigation, it emerged that the topics in the exam had been agreed in advance with the applicant and that the relative mark had been attributed even before carrying out the exam, regardless of the fact that an elementary proficiency of the Italian language had been verified during remote classes carried out by lecturers of the University for Foreigners.

Suarez (left) was handed an eight-match ban over the incident
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Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra (R)

“Today, the Italian financial police are moving forward to capture the documents at the university offices, to verify the actions described beforehand and notify the information assurances for the crimes of revelation of professional secrecy, false representation committed by public officials in official documents and other acts.

Juventus have no places left in their squad for non-EU players, meaning Suarez had to obtain Italian citizenship to join the club.

And the proposed move appears to have fallen through, with the Italian champions now set to re-sign Alvaro Morata from Atletico Madrd.

Suarez, who has been told he can leave Barcelona, now seems set to replace Morata in the Spanish capital.

Luis Suarez battles for possession
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Luis Suarez is a Uruguayan international

Republicca reported a local official as saying on Monday: “He [Suarez} does not speak a word of Italian.

“He does not conjugate verbs, he only speaks using the infinitive. If journalists would ask him some questions, he’d be lost. He earns €10million a year, he needs to pass this exam.”

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Dark web crackdown on opioid traffickers triggers 179 arrests across world, including four in UK | Science & Tech News

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Police have arrested 179 people, including four in the UK, as part of a global crackdown on dark web opioid trafficking.

More than $6.5m (£5m) in cash was seized in a series of arrests and raids across the US and Europe, which came more than a year after the Wall Street Market darknet site was closed down.

At the time the site – which was operated by three German nationals – was one of the largest online illegal marketplaces, allowing users to purchase illicit items ranging from fraudulent documents to drugs and weapons.

It was accessible though the anonymity-preserving Tor browser, which is legitimately used around the world by people whose access to the internet is controlled by authoritarian governments, but which has also provided criminals with a mechanism to frustrate law enforcement.

The US Department of Justice nicknamed the crackdown Operation DisrupTor – a reference to the software – and said its investigators were continuing to work to identify individuals behind darknet accounts.

The three Wall Street Market administrators were arrested last year after conducting a so-called exit scam, suddenly disappearing with the cryptocurrency they held in escrow for the vendors and purchasers who traded on their site.

Alongside cash and virtual currency, the crackdown led to the seizure of more than 500kg of drugs – around 275kg of which was captured in the US – and 64 firearms.

The drugs included 17kg of fentanyl and 97kg of methamphetamine, along with heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and other opioids.

FBI officers in Ohio shut down what was described as “one of the most prolific online drug trafficking organisations” in the US, “which operated using the moniker ‘Pill Cosby’.”

Another narcotics vendor called “NeverPressedRX” was, the FBI said, “so intent on securing his online criminal enterprise that he conspired to use explosives to firebomb and destroy a competitor pharmacy”.

The arrests included 121 in the US, two in Canada, 42 in Germany, eight in the Netherlands, four in the UK, three in Australia and one in Sweden, according to the US Department of Justice.

“There will be no safe haven for drug dealing in cyberspace,” the DoJ said in its statement.

“Today’s announcement is very much a success story in international law enforcement cooperation, as crime on the darknet is truly a global problem that requires global partnership.

“However, the global nature of the threat also means that foreign countries who fail to act can easily become safe harbours for criminals who seek to pump lethal, addictive drugs into the US from abroad.”

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