The Struggle for Virunga: a review

The following post was written and designed by the students of Cupeyville’s Science Club.

The Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is an amazing place, one of the greatest nature reserves in Africa. It spans over plains and mountains where elephants, buffaloes, mountain gorillas and giraffes roam.  Unfortunately, over the past few years, political unrest has threatened the natural treasure that is Virunga.

Throughout most of the 19th century and until 1960, Congo was under the colonial rule of Belgium. The nation was raped of its natural resources, its government completely controlled by foreign interests, the people lacked any power over their nation. Even after independence was achieved.

The rape and plunder of Congo under his ancestor, Leopold II, remains one of history’s greatest crimes. Last week’s milestone reignited debate over the legacy of colonialism in Africa and whether, even half a century later, all the continent’s ills can still be hung around its neck. Under Leopold’s brutal regime, as many as 10 million were killed, according to some estimates. An outcry over the mass slaughter forced him to surrender the country in 1908 to the Belgian government.[1]

Merode

Here we can see de Merode taking care of a baby gorilla.

 

m23

M23 Rebels are part of the oppressive forces that want to take control of the park for money.

Poachers and rebel military groups often enter the park and illegally kill animals for the black market. We see the struggle to protect the park from these threats through the eyes of Emmanuel de Merode, the park director, under his command hundreds of park rangers patrol Virunga in search of poachers and war criminals. Mountain gorillas suffer most from this threat as they are vulnerable and critically endangered species. Animal caretaker, Andre Bauma, shows the kind nature of mountain gorillas and the views of the local people of Congo. In 2007, illegal loggers massacred a group of gorillas, it was a heavy blow to the park’s protection program, there Andre Bauma rescued infant gorillas that had been left orphaned. These infants were taken to the gorilla orphanage where Bauma is the head caretaker, the gorillas see him as their mother, while they play with him we see they are social animals, capable of feeling the same emotions as humans.

Caretaker Andre Bauma plays with gorilla Ndakasi in the Gorilla Orphanage

 

The bounty of Virunga is not limited to biodiversity, there are resources such as fossil fuels that have attracted the attention of big oil companies that wish to mine inside park boundaries. This is the case of Soco, a British oil company that wishes to drill on Lake Edward, located inside Virunga, for oil. The Congolese government allowed Soco to drill on a portion of the park in violation of international conservation laws. The lake is the source of subsistence for the people living on its shores, oil drilling would certainly affect them, however Soco hides this fact through deceit and the promise of money.

The film shows the efforts of brave people working to save the park, Park director Merode and head ranger Rodrigue Katembo work against Soco by exposing their actions and keep corruption away from the park, oftentimes they have to refuse bribes from Soco supporters.

Investigative journalist Melanie Gouby is covering the situation inside Virunga, to get inside information she begins befriending key Soco employees, using a hidden camera and microphone she records them, obtaining valuable information.

Soco is not Virunga’s only threat, M23 rebels are at war with the government and are advancing towards Virunga, the local inhabitants and rangers plunge into immediate danger, stability in the region is threatened. Rangers have to act fast, evacuating people from villages and taking defense positions.

This film spreads awareness about an incredible place and the brave people fighting to defend it from danger. Despite so many threats, Virunga continues to be an amazing place, with the help of people around the world, it will be for a long time.

 

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11 thoughts on “The Struggle for Virunga: a review

  1. During the years, humans have been destroying the environment. Companies around the world are destroying forests and the habitats of different species. These companies do not care what they are destroying. They only care about the money. In this article presented a Palm oil company was caught destroying a primary forest in Indonesia. http://news.mongabay.com/2015/10/palm-oil-company-caught-destroying-primary-forest-in-endangered-ecosystem/

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  2. During the years, humans have been destroying the environment. Companies around the world are destroying forests and the habitats different species. These companies do not care what they are destroying. They only thing they care about is the money. In this article presented a palm oil company was caught destroying primary forest in Indonesia.

    Like

  3. During the years, humans have been destroying the environment. Companies around the world are destroying forests and the habitats different species. These companies do not care what they are destroying. They only thing they care about is the money. In this article presented a palm oil company was caught destroying primary forest in Indonesia. http://news.mongabay.com/2015/10/palm-oil-company-caught-destroying-primary-forest-in-endangered-ecosystem/

    Like

  4. Before I make this statement, I would just like to say that I enforce the idea of conservation of all wildlife on Virunga. However, now that I have seen the documentary and have been following developments in the park for the last few months, I have come to this conclusion: If people truly want to protect the park, they should be providing more information on how the locals depend on the it for their own survival. Human beings are capable of compassion to other humans and other animals, but we are also selfish and the gorillas alone won’t be enough for the poachers and the oil companies to leave the park be. The world needs to understand that the survival of the rest of the Earth’s organisms affects our way of life as much as we affect theirs. So, the government, poachers, and exploiters need to understand that if the park dies, then thousands of residents will die as well. The conflict will just get worse if someone does not intervene to save the park. I have read that they are planning to install hydroelectric plants by 2025. That is too long. Additional protection must be provided now. If not, there won’t be a park to save in the next ten years.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/01/africa/virunga-park-gorillas-conservation/

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  5. It is very sad to see what goes on in this movie and to know that this has also happened before. The government tries to destroy nature and kills innocent animals just for their benefit and don’t think about the destruction of these places and their consequences. I look up to the Rangers who are risking their live for these animals and I hope they won the battle for the Virunga National Park. I looked up more photos, videos, and their recent updates on the link below.
    https://virunga.org/

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  6. As one of the people who saw the movie, I recommend everyone else to watch it. It’s a very good movie about the danger we are to other organisms on Earth.

    Like

  7. I was very sad to read that this Nature Reserve in Congo is in the process of being exploited once again, after hundreds of years under Belgian control. Not only this, but also M23 rebels are trying to take control of the park to exploit its wildlife and ilegally sell and export the animals. It is a shame to see one of the most exceptional nature reserves in Africa being put under these circumstances.

    http://savevirunga.com

    In this website we can see that at least there are people trying to make a change in the reserve. This organization focuses on the oil extraction taking place in Lake Edward and how it pollutes and contaminates the water that the residents of the reserve drink. We can say that there is hope for the park yet, this organization and many other scientists and activists willing to change the future for this wonderful reserve are the reason hope should never be lost.

    Like

  8. I was very sad to read that this Nature Reserve in Congo is in the process of being exploited once again, after hundreds of years under Belgian control. Not only this, but also M23 rebels are trying to take control of the park to exploit its wildlife and ilegally sell and export the animals. It is a shame to see one of the most exceptional nature reserves in Africa being put under these severe circumstances.

    http://savevirunga.com/

    In this website we can see that at least there are people trying to make a change in the reserve. This organization focuses on the oil extraction taking place in Lake Edward and how it pollutes and contaminates the water that the residents of the reserve drink. We can say that there is hope for the park yet, this organization and many other scientists and activists willing to change the future for this wonderful reserve are the reason hope should never be lost.

    Like

  9. It is extremely difficult to process the fact that an animal’s habitat and life are in danger. Animals are killed maliciously every day, their bodies treated as a sort of prize. Some human beings find it hard to understand why poaching animals is inhumane and wrong; hiding behind the basis that “Since it’s an animal, it has no feelings.” That is an extremely fragile statement considering the fact that we humans are animals, but then again, some humans have no problem killing other humans. We can’t really fully change how someone sees the world, especially if it was taught to them from a very early age. Hopefully, this Netflix documentary can inform and educate a portion of the general population, considering that most people have a Netflix account.

    Like

  10. It’s incredibly sad and frustrating how people all around the world remain careless of others well-being. people decide to destroy a beautiful environment just to make having money somehow easier being careless about the houses, habitats and life’s they are destroying. the conservation of wildlife is extremely important for the world because the make sure to maintain a balance in nature. Virunga National Park is clearly more than just a park, its life, its love, it’s one of the only places where mountain gorillas. Destroying this park would literally means destroying life’s and destroying homes for both animals and humans, but most importantly, it would mean destroying freedom and way of living of every single species living there.
    http://www.awf.org/landscape/virunga
    this links contain some possible solutions for the conservation of this National Park in Africa and has also an option of getting involve to helping achieve its goals for the Virunga National Park.

    Like

  11. It’s incredibly sad and frustrating how people all around the world remain careless of others well-being. people decide to destroy a beautiful environment just to make having money somehow easier being careless about the houses, habitats and life’s they are destroying.
    The conservation of wildlife is extremely important for the world because the make sure to maintain a balance in nature. Virunga National Park is clearly more than just a park, its life, its love, it’s one of the only places where mountain gorillas can be found.
    Destroying this park would literally means destroying life’s and destroying homes for both animals and humans, but most importantly, it would mean destroying freedom and way of living of every single species living there.
    http://www.awf.org/landscape/virunga
    this links contain some possible solutions for the conservation of this National Park in Africa and has also an option of getting involve to helping achieve its goals for the Virunga National Park.

    Like

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