WWF condemns oil exploration plans inside Africa's iconic national park



Posted on 05 January 2011
 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.

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.

For further information:


Natalia Reiter, nreiter@wwfint.org, +41 79 873 8099
The total population of the mountain gorilla subspecies is about 700 individuals, split almost evenly into two groups: one in the Virunga range of volcanoes on the Uganda-Rwanda-DRC border, and the other in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda.
The total population of the mountain gorilla subspecies is about 700 individuals, split almost evenly into two groups: one in the Virunga range of volcanoes on the Uganda-Rwanda-DRC border, and the other in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY Enlarge

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