More desperate news from the DRC. An email this morning describes how rebel soldiers have completely taken over thePark Headquarters at Rumangabo in the of the Gorilla Sector of Virunga National Park. The fighting between the rebels of Laurent Nkunda and the army has engulfed the park. One reason for the continued war in this region is that it is incredibly resource-rich. One of the most important minerals is Coltan, which contains tantalum, used the world over in electronic equipment, particularly cell phones, DVD players and computers. Miners have been forced to work at gun point, in a grim return to the Heart of Darkness days of Conrad. For more details on Coltan you can go to the Wikipedia site.
The park rangers have been forced to flee en masse and so there is now nobody to keep an eye on things. For a map of the region you can go to the blog. Of course this blog is rightly concerned with the fate of the 200 or so mountain gorillas that make the park home, but with that level of human incursion it will not just be gorillas that are being hammered. Hippos have taken a huge hit over the last years (down from over 20,000 to a few hundred) , and anything that moves in the forest is going to be considered as fair game (bad pun) for hungry soldiers looking for bush meat.
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