STOP THE DESECRATION OF TWO OF THE MOST BIODIVERSE WILDLIFE PARKS ON THE PLANET
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A recent decision has been made by the Government body of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to open up two of the most biodiverse wildlife parks on the planet to oil companies for drilling and exploration, and thus destruction and desecration.
These wildlife parks are UNESCO World Heritage Listed Virunga National Park and Salonga National Park, situated within the DRC, both of which are home and sanctuary to endangered, unique and vulnerable flora and fauna.
Virunga National Park is consistently cited as one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, spanning over 7,800 square kilometres and home to 1/4 of the world's critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, two species of Great Ape, the Eastern lowland Grauers' Gorilla, Chimpanzees, Okapi, African Buffalo, Central African lions and the Congo peacock, large colonies of hippopotamus, elephants and numerous bird species, to name a few. Virunga is Africa's oldest National Park and encompasses forests, savannahs, swampland, valleys, volcanoes and glaciated mountains.
Salonga National Park is the world's second largest tropical rainforest reserve (and Africa's largest) is home to a large range of vulnerable, endemic species of animal such as the dwarf chimpanzee, the Bonobo, the African slender-snouted Crocodile, the Forest Elephant, the Congo Peacock. the National Park is virtually untouched and provides a unique habitat for the animal species within it, as it is only accessible by water.
Both of these vast National Parks play fundamental roles not only in the ongoing protection and habitat of these animals, but also play integral roles in climate regulation, carbon sequestration and potential for ongoing conservation, evolution and survival of both plant and animal species. Both National Parks provide value and service way beyond any figure of monetary value. Opening up even a small portion of these parks for oil company exploitation fractures the habitat and may disturb these already fragile ecosystems and animals within them. Furthermore, oil as a finite resource can only bring so much monetary value in the short-term that is not worth destroying millions of years evolution and immeasurable value.
The consequences of this decision has devastating global impacts including (but not limited to) irreversible loss of important carbon storing systems, devastating effects on
I am suggesting an alternative option to be considered.
Both Virunga and Salonga National Parks have the potential to be shining examples of conservation for the future if protected. Conserving these pristine parks opens up potential for eco-tourism, education, NGO protection and funding, and conservation/research projects, and thus jobs for local people for generations to come. Furthermore, these parks have the potential to preserve rare species and sustain critically endangered populations for generations to come. The value of this far outweighs the monetary value that any oil drilling operation could bring. Not only would the oil companies be destroying these precious historical sites for personal gain, I believe the money offered to the DRC by these companies would be far undercutting the true value of these historical, unique sites and is thus insulting to suggest placing a value on something to be ripped up, torn apart and then left in irreparable, barren and toxic tatters when the oil companies have "had their way" with the land.
It is the responsibility of the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect their land, their animals, their culture and heritage and identity instead of selling themselves short to companies that do not have the country's best interests at heart. I am suggesting that the alternative be considered so that a new market opens up as protectors, conservationists, educators and to hold the true value of keeping these parks intact and protected, and to be leaders in the new movement that ensures our wildlife and human life-sustaining ecosystems are protected from money-hungry industries and CEOs that do not care about the future of these nations once they have come and gone.
We are now at a crucial time in human history where the tipping point of our civilisation and life as we know it lays in the hands of powerful decision makers. The attraction and lust of money that is easily spent is fleeting, and yet having the power to say NO to enormous organisations such as mining and oil companies and not bow to dollars and cents, allows an empowerment that will last for generations to come. It is more important now than ever for our voices to come together and protect the land that we inherited from our ancestors and will gift to our children.
Please get your voice out there, be heard, let it be known that we can't stay silent anymore. We MUST protect our sacred places and the beautiful life within them.
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