May 14, 2018

DR Congo: Why tourists go to Virunga National Park

One of Africa's most stunning parks - Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo - has suffered a major blow following the killing of a ranger, and the abduction of two British tourists, who were later released. The lawlessness in the park is linked to DR Congo sliding into chaos as the Mobutu regime lost his grip on power, before he was finally toppled in 1997. "Virunga suffered terribly. Poaching depleted the park's large mammal populations, infrastructure was destroyed, and many rangers were killed. The Congolese Wildlife Authority slowly lost control of Virunga and Unesco changed the World Heritage Site status to"endangered," the park says on its website. "Over the 25 years that followed, the park staff endured an almost uninterrupted series of trials that included a refugee crisis from the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which contributed to the severe destruction of park forests, and the proliferation of armed militias throughout the park... By the end of 2008 it seemed as if Virunga was finished," it adds. "In the end, we will be judged [harshly] if we just stand by as the park vanishes. Our wish is that the park lives forever," one of them said in a video about the world-famous park.

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