A Park in Peril

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park is truly a park in peril. Now, there are so many natural areas that are being destroyed around the world now, that this may just seem like an average warning. Well, the Virunga NP isn’t just any park – it’s the most biodiverse protected area in Africa! The park holds a huge variety and diversity of ecosystems, from the tropical rainforest, to montane woodlands, to the unique Afroalpine heathlands, and savannas. This variety of habitats make the park home to an impressive variety of fauna. All the stars – Chimps, Gorillas, Lions, Leopards, Virunga Mountain Buffalo, and Elephants – are all here, but it’s perhaps also the lesser-known and mysterious that give this park its reputation as well. Ever heard of a Water Chevrotain, African Golden Cat, Owl Faced Monkey, Giant Otter Shrew, or Beecroft’s Anomalure, or perhaps an Okapi. Well, this park is essential just as essential for them too…

Unfortunately, this magnificent wonder is in peril. For several years now, militants in the DRC’s many rebel groups have taken over this park, poaching elephants and other big game. Nobody is even sure of the future of the park’s gorillas, an international treasure. It’s almost unthinkable given the park’s current state now that until only a little while ago, Virunga NP used to be among the world’s best places to see wild gorillas and chimpanzees!

Fortunately though, the brave conservationists who continue to work here refuse to give up and let the poachers and militants take over. They’ve been waging war on the enemies for years now and hopefully, they will eventually return the park to at least most of it’s former greatness. Until then, we wish the best to them, working in places unthinkable to most. Nature has remarkable resourcefulness, and given the opportunity, will survive; right now though, it’s just clinging on…

Unfortunately, visiting the Virunga NP is somewhat out of the question now, but in the future hopefully the region will become one of Africa’s wildlife attractions. Meanwhile, a few good areas to see parts of the Virunga ecosystem include Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda (Mtn Gorillas, Golden Monkeys, and Virunga Buffalo), and Bwindi Impenetrable NP (a great park – Gorilla, Duikers, Bushbabies, and more!), Queen Elizabeth NP (Giant Forest Hogs, Uganda Topi), and Kibale NP (Chimps, Red Colobus) in Uganda.

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