More About Virunga National Park Congo
Foreign investment helped to improve the park’s infrastructure and training facilities, and the park became a popular destination for tourists, receiving on average 6500 visitors a year. In 1979 UNESCO designated the park as a World Heritage Site. In the mid-1980s the Mobutu regime began to lose its hold on power and the country began a long slide into chaos and as well the park suffered terribly. Poaching exhausted Virunga’s large mammal populations, infrastructure was destroyed, and many rangers were killed.
The Congolese Wildlife Authority gradually lost mechanism of Virunga and UNESCO reformed the World Heritage Site status to “endangered. In 2013 the World Wildlife Fund raised concerns about plans by the UK based Soco International to carry out exploration for oil in the park. Presently more than 80% of Virunga National Park has been assigned as oil concessions. Soco International’s own environmental impact assessment reports admit that oil exploration is likely to cause pollution, irreparably damage habitats and bring poaching to the park.
The World Wildlife Fund has launched a campaign to petition Soco to refrain exploring the world heritage area for oil, and thereby avoid these outcomes. As of August 30, 2014, SOCO demobilized its operations in the DRC.World Wildlife Fund executives now acknowledge that the battle over Virunga is hardly over. SOCO has yet to surrender its operating permits or commit to an unrestricted withdrawal. The park is known for its remarkable biodiversity, comprising more bird, mammal and reptile species than any protected area on the continent of Africa.