Quest for oil threatens Africa’s oldest wildlife reserve
- Africa’s grand wildlife reserve Virunga National Park located in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was created from the far east end of the previous Belgian Congo in 1925. Spreading across 800,000 hectares it is a protected region with Uganda and Rwanda on the border.
- UN declared it to be part of global heritage in 1994 owing to its exceptionally rich biodiversity and it being home to the rare and endangered mountain gorillas. Dangers to this region are being posed by deforestation, poachers, logging teams and warring soldiers who have taken up illegal residence.
- Latest threat is the quest and production of oil jointly run by British firm SOCO International PLC and Kinshasa government, which serves as a major source of pollution as this is located near the sources of the Nile.
- British frim SOCO secured a contract from the Congolese government to jointly prospect for oil on a concession overlapping the park’s territory in 2010, international resistance made Kinhasa suspend the contract.
- WWF and local organisations failed by ‘strategic environmental evaluation’ conducted following this, and filed a complaint against SOCO. In response the British government ordered an independent probe .
- SOCO, which has been condemned for conducting operation inside the park for several months, announced that there have been no plans of drilling activity as of now, but that a seismic survey of Lake Edward may be conducted. Experts believe this survey is on the pretext of oil prospection and may cause potential damage to the environment.
- Oil Prospecting
- Mega Bio-diverse Regions
- Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA)