Congo’s rare mountain gorillas could become victims of oil exploration

WWF warns of environmental disaster and permanent conflict if British firm begins drilling for oil inside Virunga national park

by John Vidal

The Virunga national park, home to rare mountain gorillas but targeted for oil exploration by a British company, could earn strife-torn DR Congo $400m (£263m) a year from tourism, hydropower and carbon credits, a WWF report published on Thursday concludes.

But if the Unesco world heritage site that straddles the equator is exploited for oil, as the Congolese government and exploration firm Soco International are hoping, it could lead to devastating pollution and permanent conflict in an already unstable region, says the conservation body.

Congo has allocated oil concessions over 85% of the Virunga park but Soco International is now the only company seeking to explore inside its boundaries. This year Unesco called for the cancellation of all Virunga oil permits…

(read more: The Guardian UK)

photos: Brent Stirton/WWF/Getty; Andy Rouse/WWF

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