The huge national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most dangerous conservation projects in the world. But thanks to the efforts of a committed force of rangers, populations of endangered species are recovering and locals say the park offers hope for the whole region

It is dawn on the shores of Lake Edward and the sun is rising over the volcanoes on the eastern skyline. Mist lies over the still water. In the forest there are elephant, hippopotamus and buffalo. Guarding them are 26 rangers in a single fortified post.

Then the silence is rudely broken. There are shouts, scattered shots, volleys from automatic weapons. Waves of attackers rush through the brush and trees. Some are close enough to hurl spears and fire arrows.

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