"UN Urges Congo To Ban Oil Drilling In Gorilla Park"

"The United Nations' cultural arm UNESCO has appealed to Congolese President Joseph Kabila to guarantee there will be no oil exploration in the forest home of rare gorillas where two UK-listed firms hold drilling rights.

SOCO International and Dominion Petroleum were awarded a presidential decree to Block 5 of east Congo's Albertine Graben in June. Plans for a seismic survey include exploding dynamite, despite the fact that the rebel-heavy area overlaps with the protected Virunga National Park.

In a letter seen by Reuters, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova warned Kabila of "extremely damaging repercussions" of oil activity and asked him to ensure no exploration took place in the park, which is also home to chimpanzees, lions, elephants, and migratory birds so rare it has special wetland status."

Katrina Manson reports for Reuters November 29, 2010.

Monday, November 29, 2010