|Posted by WWCC on January 17, 2011 at 12:04 AM|
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Mountain gorillas, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gland, Switzerland (WWF) – WWF calls on companies SOCO and Dominion to abandon their oil exploration plans in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), warning these actions will undermine decades of work and successful and costly conservation efforts aimed at saving the park’s unique nature.
The UK-listed companies’ plans to drill for oil will be costly for the area’s precious and fragile biodiversity, including, chimpanzees, hippos, elephants and other rare species, as well as the local population who benefit from tourism and sustainable fishing inside the national park.
Africa’s oldest national park and the continent’s first World Heritage Site, Virunga is home to many species of mammals, birds and reptiles, and an impressive diversity of landscape and habitats.
Home of the last mountain gorillas
It is also home to about 200, almost a quarter, of the earth’s last remaining mountain gorillas, a charismatic large ape species and one of human kind’s closest living relatives.
Some 30,000 local fishermen who fish sustainably on the park’s Lake Edward, a Ramsar protected site, will also suffer if drilling plans in the park go ahead.
After so many years of conservation and money invested in the Park by conservation groups, the international community and the government, it is devastating to see an oil company pursue profit with total disrespect for both the animals and the local Congolese.
Armed groups are moving out of the park, and the enormous efforts put into conservation work is starting to pay off and the park’s situation is finally improving.
But with oil companies coming in all these achievements might be undermined.
WWF calls on the Congolese government to guarantee and to enforce the existing oil exploration ban in the park designated World Heritage Site and asks the UK-listed companies to respect the law and international convention and to abandon their harmful plans for exploration.
Company maps seen by international media indicate that SOCO intends to drill through much of the park in areas with some of the highest savannah biomass in the world.
© Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon
Sabinyo volcano and thick forest, habitat of the endangered mountain gorilla Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.