To these young men raised in poverty, that Virunga’s tremendously fertile soil, its trees, and its creatures should be protected by law for the viewing pleasure of well-off tourists struck them as a grave injustice. They were swept into a militia known as M23, which touted a host of grievances against the corrupt government but in the meantime was content to loot and rape its way through a slice of eastern Congo near the park’s southern sector. By the end of 2013, after more than a year and a half of fighting, the Congolese Army, backed by United Nations troops, routed M23.
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