Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gorillas more important than oil in Congo

When it comes to animals vs oil exploration and drilling the winners are usually oil companies but luckily not always. The positive example comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa where country's environmental minister Jose Endundo has rejected the bid by the UK's Soco International to search for oil in the Virunga National Park.

Virunga national park is the largest habitat for mountain gorillas in the world, with more than 200 of the world's remaining 700 mountain gorillas living here. Not only that, this area also belongs to the areas with the richest biodiversity on our planet.

You don't have to be a scientist to realize that oil exploration and drilling would cause huge damage to animals living in this area, especially when you consider the history of this area covered with bloody civil wars.

In fact, there are still some armed groups of rebels operating in this area, attracted by the richness of mineral resources, and oil exploration would therefore likely add even more tensions and unrest into already extremely sensitive area.

This area is also rich with fish, in fact it is estimated that fish stocks in nearby Lake Edward are a vital food supply for around 500,000 families.

The last thing this area needs is oil exploration and oil drilling. Some politicians claim that oil drilling would boost Congo's economy by creating many new jobs. But at what cost? Destroying such a beautiful nature?

The decision about the oil exploration could sadly still change because Endundo already announced that the government is about to conduct its own environmental assessment into oil exploration in Virunga.

The animals such as mountain gorillas have already suffered enough from frequent military conflicts in the park. The last thing they need right now is oil drilling.

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