Current situation in the Virunga national park

Current situation in the Virunga national park : The Virunga national park is one of the most bio diverse lands in Africa and this is backed by the numerous wildlife species and plant life. The Virunga national park has up to a thousand different species of mammals, reptiles, mammals and birds and among these wildlife species are the famous mountain gorillas. The Virunga national park is currently the home to a third of the total gorilla population.

The Virunga national park is located on the eastern land border between DR Congo and Rwanda within the Congo Basin. This park is also situated within the second largest tropical rain forest of the world. The Virunga national park offers a fire and ice experience as it is a home to the active volcanic Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamulagira as well as the Rwenzori mountains that get snow capped in the dry season.

The Virunga national park is a UNESCO world heritage site and welcomes a great number of guests on an annual basis despite the disturbed past of wars and illegal activities in the area. The Virunga national park in the past once closed for more than a year after there were security concerns in the park. The Virunga national park reopened in February 2019 on a much stronger and secure note with a full time security personnel for all visitors to the park.

The Virunga national park lies close or even in one of the troubled regions of the Democratic republic of Congo, the Nord Kivu, however much the attacks rarely spread into the park. The Nord Kivu has for a long time been troubled by the ADF rebel group that is situated at the Bunagana land border of Uganda and the DR Congo.

Efforts;

The Virunga national park is well aware of the security concerns of the area and have put a few measures in place to ensure the safety of the visitors coming to the park with an interest to explore it.

Current situation in the Virunga national park
Gorilla Trekking in the Virunga National Park

Security convoy team;

The Virunga national park after they reopened came up with a fully dedicated security team that escort guests right from the moment of check in at the Virunga tourism office at the Grande Barrier, on the activities until they are back to check out of the park. This security convoy is the reason as to why the park safari packages all have set off dates to ensure systematic running of all visits and also to minimize costs while maximizing the efficiency of the measure.

ICCN interference;

The Congolese Institute of Conservation of Nature (ICCN) is one of the greatest stakeholders of this park and with this there have been efforts to arrest the individuals responsible for terrorizing the communities living around the park. The ICCN on the 9th of January made a big arrest of a rebel leader called Jackson Muhukambuto who was known for trafficking ivory.

Ivory traffickers are also linked to poachers who kill the rhinos for their tusks and this was destructive to the resources of the park. The poachers also at a point target and kill the ranger guards who try to prevent them and this one Jackson and rebel group were associated with the killing of 19 rangers of the Virunga national park.

The ICCN also sets the guidelines to govern the running of activities in the Virunga national park and also ensures that these conservation guidelines are enforced.

Park closure

The Virunga national park is one of the parks that have had several closures with an aim to better the experience while in this park. The Virunga national park has had an experience of having their gates closed to guests. The past scenarios have been due to insecurity where the guests were kidnapped but safely returned, after the COVID-19 pandemic that required less movement.

The latest closure was recently in December 2021 where the areas near the park were attacked twice and the management saw it fit to close the park until the situation has been calmed. The Virunga national park looks at reopening by March 2022 after the situation has been calmed. The safety of guests is put as first priority and that is why this decision was made.

The Mount Nyiragongo has been closed after the last eruption of May 2021 and a huge crack was spotted close to the Nyiragongo summit shelters thus the postponement of reopening this activity as they look for a new home for the Nyiragongo summit shelters.

A Congo safari is still possible as guests can take on a visit to the Kahuzi Biega national park for a lowland gorilla trekking experience.

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