Target: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
Goal: Prevent oil exploration in one of the world’s oldest and most pristine national parks
Oil companies are continuing to seek permits that would allow them to explore for oil in Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga. This national park is also the home range of more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas, a critically endangered species whose survival would be seriously threatened if it were to lose a large portion of its habitat. Despite the fact that Virunga is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has considered revoking the national park’s protected status, therefore becoming “degazetted” and making it legal for oil companies to drill in the area.
Not only is Virunga National Park home to a majority of the mountain gorillas currently living in the wild, but it is also the home of several other endangered species including chimpanzees, forest elephants, and hippos. The incredibly rare forest giraffe, Okapi, resides in Virunga National Park exclusively. Allowing oil companies to search and drill for oil in this beautiful landscape would further threaten the survival of these rare creatures.
By signing this petition, you will be asking U.S. government officials to urge the DRC government to abandon its plans to degazette Virunga National Park to allow oil development, revoke all previously issued permits to explore for oil in the park, and permanently declare all of DRC’s protected areas and national parks off-limits to oil companies.
Dear Secretary Kerry,
I was shocked to learn that oil companies were still seeking permits that would allow them to explore for oil in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park. As a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as Africa’s first national park, Virunga is truly an environmental treasure. The park is also part of the home range of more than half of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. Sadly, the DRC government has suggested that Virunga could lose its protected status and be “degazetted” so that oil drilling may legally take place, threatening the livelihood of the people and wildlife that call the park home.
Please do all that you can to ensure that the DRC government revokes any previously issued permits to explore for oil in Virunga National Park and permanently declares all of the DRC’s protected areas and national parks, including Virunga, off limits to oil, gas and mining companies. Hopefully, strong U.S. government engagement will aid in protecting one of the world’s most important parks and help prevent the extinction of mountain gorillas and the other endangered species that call Virunga home.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Julielangford via Wikimedia Commons