VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK CLOSED DUE TO DANGERS FOR STAFF AND TOURISTS
(Posted 06th June 2018)
Three weeks ago, in the wake of the killing of another Virunga park ranger and the abduction of two British citizens and a local driver – all released in the meantime – was it reported here that the national park, Africa’s oldest, will be temporarily closed for tourists.
This closure was now extended until 2019 to allow park authorities and other government bodies to fully assess security and safety of visitors. During the last year at least a dozen rangers and park staff were killed with more than 170 reported killed over the past decade. This clearly raised the alarm levels, more so after the abduction of two British citizens last month, and while the park is a major source of revenue and employment for the region could warnings about visitor safety and security no longer be ignored.
This prompted Chief Park Warden Emmanuel de Merode – himself an assassination target a few years ago – to announce the closure of the park.
Tourists intending to go and visit Virunga have been advised to stay away and rather track gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda where their safety can be assured and given the local circumstances it is expected that travel insurances for Eastern Congo may also be rendered null and void.
Foreign offices have meanwhile also strengthened their language of travel advisories to leave no doubt into what danger zone potential visitors would walk.