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Did the Democratic Republic of Congo Just Approve a Proposal That Will Endanger the Gorillas?

Virunga, a lush national park in Africa and home to the silverback gorilla. Unfortunately, the gorillas are at risk of being uprooted. The Virunga government just approved oil drilling on park grounds. Activists and those who care about preserving the national park are enraged by this decision. Is this decision to start drilling for oil really worth endangering a whole species?



A Proposal That Some People Think Is A Little Bananas

The Congo is known for its lush jungles and large populations of wildlife. Among these different types of wildlife are multiple endangered species like mountain gorillas. These gorillas are even more at risk because the Democratic Republic of Congo has approved portions of the national parks to oil drilling.

The Virunga national park is opening certain parts to allow oil drilling. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has tried to get oil drilling approved in the past. Animal activists resist their attempts every time.

The DRC finally said that they have the power to approve drilling wherever they want. They did make a statement saying they are aware of the effect that drilling will have on wildlife and are going to try to keep the flora and fauna safe while they drill.

Regardless of what they say, drilling in the areas that they advertised will require removing the protection that has been keeping the wildlife safe.

The History of the Silverback Gorilla

Virunga National Park was founded in 1925. It was originally called Parc Albert. When the Rwandan genocide occurred, millions of refugees with nowhere to go turned to the park. Unfortunately, park rangers had to keep the park safe and intact.

In 2007, an illegal mafia killed a family of gorillas that lived in the park. Their thought process was that if there were no gorillas there would be no reason to protect the park.

How The DRC Is Handling Lashback

The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo is used to the resistance when it comes to decisions involving fossil fuels. Joseph Kabila, the president, signed a law in early 2018 allowing coal mining despite the protests he received.

Since 2010, the population of endangered mountain gorillas has increased by more than 25%. It’s because of this that many people feel like drilling into the environment would only be putting them in danger.

The gorillas are in constant danger from poachers who kill the gorillas as trophies and for bush meat.

Currently, the biggest organization that is fighting for the gorillas’ rights is the Save Virunga organization. They put the importance of the area the gorillas live in as their top priority. An official statement about the government decision to start drilling has not yet been released.

The Save Virunga website says “Virunga should be a place where no oil extraction and pollution occurs, a place where people develop sustainable livelihoods based on healthy and intact ecosystems.”

So while they might not have released an official statement, it’s pretty clear what their stance is on the decision to start drilling.