The Serengeti & Kruger – to almost all westerners these represent the iconic parks of Africa. These regions are magnificent in waist-high golden grasses and pulsating with a range of wildlife such as elephants, lions, rhinos and giraffes. Located at the Democratic Republic of Congo and definitely not as well-known is the park called Virunga; Africa’s oldest and most diverse, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This park is under severe threat due to several oil businesses that own enterprises in the endangered area.
Virunga probably doesn’t sound familiar to you, in fact, I’m sure this is the first time you are hearing about this. This is most likely because often this region has been closed off to tourists due to the violence and conflict that was going on between the M23 rebels.
IF the Virunga Park is protected and sheltered from the oil companies, the value of the park exceeds 1 billion dollars and an extra 45,000 jobs for the locals within the park. Part of this value includes fishing, hydro-power, tourism, and the carbon sequestration of the forests. Sadly enough ALL of this would be destroyed if the oil companies went ahead with their intended exploration.
The route of discovering, extracting and transporting oil is an untidy business. Just look at what happened in the Niger Delta and the systematic air, water and soil contamination that plagues the area. These companies aren’t employing locals to do this level of work, no one but the company and some government officials seem to profit and the industry fuels violence as much as anything else, in these politically unsteady regions.
There’s also concern that seismic surveys and exploratory drilling might lead to increased volcanic activity in the park which boasts 8 active volcanoes. In 2006, 30,000 people were displaced in Indonesia after a volcanic eruption triggered by oil and gas drilling.