Congo – Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites Are Now Open To Oil Drilling

Congo – Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites Are Now Open To Oil Drilling

eastern lowland Grauer’s gorillaThe Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government has confirmed a portion of the Virunga and Salonga National Parks, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, will soon be opened for oil exploration and drilling.

Both national parks are the home of African forest elephant, chimpanzees, mountain gorillas and other rare species.

The Virunga National Park covers over 3,000 square miles (7,800 square kilometers) in size and covered a rich eco systems that includes active volcanoes, forests, lake shores, lava plains, mountains, and swamps.  It has been praised as the most diverse places on Earth for its ecologically diversity. A quarter of the world critically endangered mountain gorillas lives in the park, along side of two other species of ape, the eastern lowland Grauer’s gorilla, and chimpanzees. Other rare species like the Okapi, African Buffalo, Central African lions and the Congo peacock.

Salonga National Park is the largest African park, it covers over 14,000 square miles (36,000 square kilometers) in size it is also the second-largest, tropical rainforest in the world. It has an equally astounding range of environment features and animals like like bonobos, Dryas monkeys, leopards and African slender-snouted crocodile. There are no roads and most of the park is accessible only by river.

OkapiAll of these natural resources are now at the epicenter between the DRC government wanting to exploit them and activist to protect those two UNESCO parks

The DRC has been throughout the years subject to countless instability and conflicts with its own governments, militia groups, poachers, oil companies and environmentalists each one with a different agenda for that region. Virunga national park has made the decision to ban all visitors and tourists from the area until at least 2019 due to the killing this year of 12 anti-poaching rangers. Violence in and around those parks have been on the rise.

The last time an oil company has attempted to exploit this part of Congo Basin, particularly in Virunga Park, it was met with a massive opposition from environmental activists.

In 2014 SOCO International a British Oil and Gas company performed a seismic testing in Virunga, they let their license run out in 2015 due to strong opposition. During spring of 2014 SOCO had to paid over $42,000 to an army major accused of violence toward opponents of oil exploration according to documents seen by the New York Times and BBC News. Since that discovery SOCO has pledged to stay out of Virunga and all other UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The DRC government is defending their actions to authorize drilling for oil and gas anywhere in the country and they are cognizant of protecting their country biodiversity

The question remains for the DRC government why would you destroy two UNESCO World Heritage Sites?
Why an oil company would go in business knowingly the uncertainty of that country as well as corruption and militia rooming the region.
Would you want to be responsible for the extinction of endangered species and violating two UNESCO World Heritage Sites?