Virunga National Park is located in the province of North Kivu, East of the DRC and it was created in 1930. Due to the great diversity of animals and plants it contained, it was since ever considered as a world heritage. In addition, it is the very first park created on the African continent. It covers an area of 7 900 Kilometers Square, 650 km long boundary with a buffer zone. However today, its ecosystem is in danger as regards environment protection. This started in 1994 with the massive flow of Rwandese refugees who were fleeing the genocide in their country the same yaer. The number of the people who took refuge in Kivu was estimated at 2 000 000 people. Since then, this world heritage has been put on the list of World Heritage in Danger. This park is living hardship with poaching and illegal fishing on lake Albert. The latter was considered to be the lake the most abounding in fish on the continent and it is part of the abovementioned park, in which the number of hippos and birds rare species, and many more, is awfully scaling down. This world heritage is today threatened of extinction despite the strong mobilization of different NGOs that fight for environment protection.
Several species of animals have completely disappeared in this park. Accordingly, in 1988, there were about 25 000 of hippos but today, that is 2010, they are estimated at less than 400 individuals only. Similarly, the number of birds has reduced as well. The reason for this is the illegal fishing on Lake Albert, which has destructed everything and has strongly impacted on the birds that used to feed on young fishes and hippos. Indeed, the disappearance of fishes and hippos has also affected birds. Since Hippos feed birds, their disappearance affect many more other animals. This because hippos are ecosystem feeders since many animals feed on their dung. The disappearance of some animals strongly involves the ecosystem. The number of the hippos that have disappeared raises between 90- 95%. This destructive situation is well known at the international level.
Xavier Hubert is a coordinator of the local NGO, Objective 2015, and he is interested in nature conservation. For him, it is surprising to learn that a park guardian here is paid only 30 $ a month, which is totally nothing as salary. Additionally, the guardians of this park have openly denounced the overwhelming of foreigners, with focus on Uganda. The latter is a neighbor country to the DRC in the Easy. One guardian revealed that it is quite difficult for them to carry out normally their duty because sometimes during their patrol they are attacked by Ugandan soldiers who want to poach.
The North Kivu provincial minister of information and government speaker, Mr Juma Balikwisha deplores the behavior of the security agents with the complicity of the resident populations. For him, the latter should organize their survival but not in poaching or fishing illegally on the lake. He also avows that the North Kivu government has no idea about any funds that are released by the international community. According to him, in his province they do not really see that money being injected into social projects to assist the local population, which can eschew them from poaching. Such projects have never been launched due to lack of funding. In addition, different interveners do not seriously assume their tasks. This is due to the fact that international NGOs that come to set up projects to help the local populations are faced with a strong challenge with local NGOs. Eventually, this leads to failure; they should rather build joint capacity building via collaboration. If we consider the national objectives to reduce poverty in 2015, the Congolese need a sustainable ecosystem with diversity.
However, it is possible to assess the global situation of this park in order to improve its future management. People have to sit around the table and see together if funds were released and if so, what’s their purpose. This means to identify its destination; in case the money has not reached the expected point, that means that it was embezzled. Therefore, the embezzlers deserve severe punishment, another thorny issue in the country.
All in all, environment protection is necessary and it is a universal concern. In protecting these hippos, fishes and birds of Virunga National Park, we are contributing to ecosystem and biodiversity protection. If the latter are well protected, tourists will massively come to the country, which grows the national revenue. In addition, this plays on people’s health and living conditions and eventually, the country will have good reputation worldwide.