December 19, 2013
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Mountain gorilla, Rwanda
As we can read in the oficial page of the National park, Virunga National Park is a 7800 square kilometer World Heritage Site that lies on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the oldest, most beautiful and most diverse national park on the African continent that and boasts savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys, forests, active volcanoes and the ice fields of the Rwenzori Mountains. The park provides a home to numerous species of wildlife, including 200 of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas and a small population of eastern lowland gorillas.
What happens in Virunga?
Virunga is at risk of becoming Africa’s newest oil field. When we heard UK oil company Soco might explore for oil inside Virunga. Some places are just too precious to exploit (we can read about this new project and how it would affect the environment in the web page of the WWF foundation which launched a campaign against this project). It’s got more than its share of wonderful wildlife – not just huge numbers of unique birds, but African icons like lions, elephants, hippos, chimps and the remarkable okapi. And a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.
Soco’s plan to explore for oil isn’t the only threat to Virunga – civil unrest and wars have put pressure on local people, wildlife and resources on-and-off for years. But we believe oil exploration would bring a new and unacceptable level of risk for Virunga’s environment and communities.
The journalist John Vidal wrote in The Guardian.com the folllowing article giving more detailed explanation about the SOCO firm:
Congo’s rare mountain gorillas could become victims of oil exploration.
“Congo has allocated oil concessions over 85% of the Virunga park but Soco International is now the only company seeking to explore inside its boundaries. This year Unesco called for the cancellation of all Virunga oil permits. Soco, whose board of 10 directors have wide experience with oil companies working in conflict areas including Exxon, Shell and Cairn, insist that their operations in Congo would be confined to an area in the park known as Block V, and would not affect the gorillas.” (John Vidal “The Guardian.com”, Thursday 1 August 2013 09.26)
As I said before the WWF association has launched a campaign against this destructive plan. If you want you can sign in the WWF Espain web page and make an aportation to this fight. http://www.wwf.es/que_hacemos/especies/sos_virunga/