Virunga is a national park situated in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park occupies a land worth 7800 square kilometers. It is rich in both flora and fauna of diverse species. Most of all, it has gorillas, which are its primary income earner.
Why Tourists Come to Virunga
Virunga is not only a tourist site but also a rich prehistoric site. The king of Belgium, Albert I, is the founder of this scenery. Those who have traveled to Virunga often report having a lifetime experience. Forests, savannas, lava plains, swamps, active volcanoes, glaciated peaks are but some of the features which have dominated the region. Climbing the mountain tops has often been an excellent activity for tourists.
Since the park is rich in a different ecosystem, distinct species inhabit the area. The most prominent are the mountain gorillas, which are 880 in number. These gorillas are about a quarter of the World’s total gorillas. However, it is quite unfortunate that these species are critically endangered as rebels target them. Other than gorillas, about 2500 hippos inhabit the banks of Lake Edward and the three Rivers in the park.
Due to its beauty, Virunga is known around the World. It has the backing of the British Royal Family. Therefore Virunga enjoys a healthy relationship with the Royal Foundation, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry’s charitable trust. Telegraph Newspaper in the west is even writing articles about Virunga. Hence the park is a beautiful asset that African are proud to possess.
Since Virunga is a beautiful site, its tax rates are relatively high. For instance, to obtain a mountain gorilla trekking permit, one pays about $400, while to access accommodation, one pays $300. These rates are way cheaper than the charges in Rwanda where prices are from $750 and $1500 as of last year.
Climbing the volcano and Gorilla trekking has been a fantastic experience for the tourists who visit Virunga. Some have stated that the aerial view from the mountain tops has usually been a sight to die for. However, getting to the park has never been an easy task, mainly as the pathways leading to it are blocked with vegetation cover, which hinders movement.
Is Virunga Dangerous?
Despite all the beauty that comes with the park, it is also prone to danger. Indeed not all that glitters is gold. The threat in Virunga is attributable to the fact that ethnic groups in the region are conflicting over its resources and surrounding areas. Rebel groups from different groups have occasionally destroyed vegetation, killed fauna, and even abducted and raped locals and foreigners in the region.
Mr. De Merode, the park manager, told BBC that the armed groups steal and traffick the natural resources to prices of about $170 million. And since these militia groups are competing for income, they fight each other and causing chaos. The situation has nevertheless worsened following the end of Mobutu’s reign in 1997. Lawlessness in DRC has caused the park a tremendous fall. The killing of wild animals in the park has resulted in the depletion of large mammal populations. Also, the assassination of rangers and the destruction of infrastructure have led to the park being in danger.