Africa's Oldest Tourist Park Shutdown Due To Violence

Violence has erupted in Virunga Gorilla Park located in Democratic Republic of Congo leading to the closure of the natural Park which is a major revenue earner for the country. Reports say over 176 rangers have been killed in the past 20 years at the park.

Gangs of heavily armed gunmen roam the North Kivu Province close to Rwanda and Uganda boarders fighting for supremacy and control over territorial and natural resources. Murder, kidnapping and widespread violence has forced the popular tourist site to close down for visitors until 2019.

In a state, the park director Emmanuel de Merode said. "It is clear that the Virunga region is deeply affected by insecurity and that this will be the case for a certain time,"

"So that Virunga can be visited in safety, much more robust measures are needed than in the past," added the Belgian.
"That will require very significant investment and that makes it impossible to reopen to tourism this year."
"We have called on a respected international security service to carry out an audit of our security measures," the park statement said.

Numerous militia and armed gangs roam North Kivu province near the Rwanda and Uganda borders fighting for ownership of territorial and natural resources in the area.

Established in 1925 close by Lake Kivu and the Nyiragongo volcano, Virunga is a wildlife conservation park home to about a quarter of the world's population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippopotamuses.

By Onwordi Ngozi Fortune

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