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DR Congo Government Allows Oil Drilling in Virunga, Salonga Wildlife Parks

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has decided to allow oil exploration in its two protected wildlife parks, the BBC reports.

The move that has been strongly opposed by environmental activists will see drilling of oil in the Virunga and Salonga parks with the activists saying it would place wildlife at risk and contribute to global warming.

Around one-fifth of the Virunga national park will be opened to oil drilling.

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The parks which are home to bush elephants, critically endangered mountain gorillas and the bonobo, an endangered ape are Unesco World Heritage Sites, with Salonga national park covering 36,000 sq km (13,900 sq miles) of the Congo Basin – the world’s second-largest rainforest after the Amazon.

In its defense, the government has said in a statement that it is mindful of protecting animals and plants in the two parks.

The cabinet said it had approved commissions charged with preparing plans to declassify parts of the parks, including 1,720 sq km (664 sq miles), or 21.5%, of eastern Congo’s Virunga, the continent’s oldest wildlife reserve.

Virunga Park, also famous for its volcanoes was earlier this year closed by authorities until 2019 after two British tourists were kidnapped and a female park ranger was killed.

The rise in instability and violence in the region has seen at least 12 rangers being killed in the clashes with armed groups and poachers in the past year.

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Written by PH

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