Struggle continues in Africa Oldest National Park

Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member
#1
Persephone and I had the opportunity to go visit the Virunga National Park when we were in the DRC.
It was without a doubt one of the highlight of our journey.

Unfortunately it seems like things are still very problematic over there.

Here is the latest news:

Belgian Emmanuel de Merode was ambushed in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/...merode-warden-shot-virunga-congo/?sf2625043=1

http://virunga.org/news/statement-from-chief-warden-de-merode-regarding-the-recent-events/

They made a movie about the park, which I have not seen yet. Hopefully they can get more and more attention to this area.

[video=vimeo;92226142]http://vimeo.com/92226142[/video]
 

Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member
#2
More on this by topic Richard Branson, Desmon Tutu and Howard G. Buffet:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-branson/virunga-national-park_b_5222851.html

Posted: 04/27/2014 2:13 pm EDT

Oil exploration could be devastating to Africa's most iconic national park -- and its people.

The British company SOCO International has recently begun surveying for oil in Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Africa's eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Virunga is home to a significant portion of the world's roughly 880 remaining mountain gorillas. Although extracting oil from Virunga is prohibited by current DRC and international law, SOCO maintains its efforts are preliminary, exploratory, legal and designed to bring economic benefits and jobs to the people of DRC.

Our collective experiences in Africa and our direct knowledge of these specific circumstances compel us to another conclusion. This week the documentary Virunga premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and offers a vivid and troubling account of SOCO's activities in a country where natural resources, conflict and human suffering are too often intertwined.

It is difficult to exaggerate the ecological and symbolic value of Virunga National Park. Established in 1925, it is Africa's oldest national park, and at nearly two million acres, it is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth -- containing more mammal, bird and reptile species than any other protected area on the African continent. It was declared a World Heritage site in 1979 because 190 countries agreed it deserved the world's special protection.
 
#3
Why is it the initial reaction to an oil company exploring in the park is viewed negatively? it likely would be a very positive thing in the long run!
 

Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member
#4
Why is it the initial reaction to an oil company exploring in the park is viewed negatively? it likely would be a very positive thing in the long run!
Partly because of history. Regulations are very rarely enforced in those regions - it is not the same rules as doing oil exploration in Alaska for example.
 
#5
... Unfortunately it seems like things are still very problematic over there.
Indeed... one tends to forget that "Congo has become a never-ending nightmare, one of the bloodiest conflicts since World War II, with more than five million dead. It seems incomprehensible that the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa and on paper one of the richest, teeming with copper, diamonds and gold, vast farmlands of spectacular fertility and enough hydropower to light up the continent, is now one of the poorest, most hopeless nations on earth. Unfortunately, there are no promising solutions within grasp, or even within sight."

Quoting from the New York Times

The political situation makes it that people are constantly struggling to survive, wildlife is lower down on the priority list...

Sad for this National Park that I visited for the first time in 1980... There was plenty of wildfile in those days, wheras when I travelled through the Park in 2006 there was hardly any game left...

Bernard