Oil Exploration in Virunga National Park an unwelcome intrusion

February 8, 2011

Oil Exploration in Virunga National Park an unwelcome intrusion. It is incompatible with the Park's status and ignores the brave efforts by Park guards to safeguard this World Heritage site.

The Fossey Fund is disturbed by the news that oil companies applied to enter Virunga National Park, a World Heritage Site, hard on the heels of the news that several park guards were killed in recent weeks. Over the years, our Karisoke Research Center trackers have conducted joint patrols with Rwandese and Congolese Park guards in a coordinated trans-boundary initiative to protect the Virunga Ecosystem's Parks and the flora and fauna they harbor and we were all saddened to learn of their colleagues' passing.

So much good has been done in the area to promote tourism and safeguard the wonderful mountain gorillas and new positive stories continue to surface, like the birth of yet another set of twins to the Hirwa group in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Millions of dollars from all over the world have helped these efforts and it is hard to see what benefit comes to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when the proposed oil revenues go in large part to the oil companies with only a very small percentage, 15% going the DRC authorities. The Institute Congolaise pour le Conservation de Nature (ICCN) has protested this decision and we applaud their action.