National Parks, Smart?
By Mariah Foreman
Animal preservation is important for the enjoyment of the public and because, without it, it could lead to a chain reaction of extinction. One strong narrative around the idea of protecting and preserving endangered species is that national parks are the best option. National parks are vital to the well being of animals because they preserve endangered species and give animals the freedom they need in their natural habitats while protecting them from anyone that could harm them. They’re also used for public attractions which is good for the park because it increases the value of the animals and leads to further support from individuals and organizations. The first attempt at securing areas for a park was on April 20, 1832 but it wasn’t until March 1, 1872 that the worlds first national park was established and signed into law by Ulysses S, Grant.
This narrative will be focused on Virunga, a National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This national park, created by Albert 1 of belgium in 1925 is one of Africa’s oldest parks. It was first created to protect the mountain gorillas and is still home to about a quarter of the 880 mountain gorillas left. Virunga has recently in the past few years experienced acts of violence that have threatened the rangers and well being of the animals but it has not stopped them from protecting the park. Having been threatened by armed militia has only proven their dedication to the animals.
There has many situations where the rangers have been tested, one example of national parks protecting and preserving the animals is when soco, an international oil and gas exploration company attempted to drill in Virunga.This process was documented on the Virunga movie. In this documentary it shows the history of the congo and how it has been exploited for its many resources. Soco was attempting to drill close to where the endangered species of Mountain Gorillas lived in the park. It shows the rangers and chief warden fighting and risking their lives. It also shows the many people surrounding the park and how a lot of people lives depend on the conditions of the park.
WHO AND WHY
There are many organizations and people that help Virunga in various ways so it can continue to please the public and serve the animals. The World Wildlife fund is one of the many organizations that focus on conserving biological diversity and creating safe places where humans and nature can coexist. They have helped Virunga by filing a complaint that lead to Soco announcing the end to the drilling and working to cancel all oil exploration permits in Virunga.
One of the many people that contribute to virunga is Emmanuel de Merode, the chief warden of Virunga and he has been since August 1, 2008. Assisting in the launch of the Virunga alliance for peace in the eastern Congo, the warden has also, alongside the 680 rangers, risked his life everyday by protecting Virunga and the animals from poachers.
For future enjoyment and to not create a chain reaction of extinction we need national parks to preserve and conserve these endangered species. With awareness and a lot of support from big organizations national parks could be the answer for all wildlife.