Hippo Massacre in Virunga National Park (DRC): UNESCO Reacts

Thursday, 23 November 2006
access_time 2 min read
Conservation activities continue in the World Heritage sites of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with particular attention given to Virunga National Park, where hippopotamuses are being massacred by the Mai Mai rebel group.

In response to this massacre, UNESCO and its field partners have taken the following measures to stop the poaching which threatens to eradicate the hippo population:

  • Alerted the Congolese authorities and the MONUC on the worrying situation of the hippopotamus populations of Virunga National Park. As a result, UN peacekeepers based in North Kivu (where the site is located) agreed to carry out a number of anti-poaching patrols to help reduce the devastating poaching epidemic that has broken out in the World Heritage properties.
  • Made sure that information related to the killing of hippos along the border with Uganda is shared with the Uganda Wildlife Authority to allow them to intervene if possible.
  • UNESCO has written to the Special Representative of the General Secretary in the DRC requesting the cooperation of MONUC staff in removing armed forces from the Park.

According to information received from the field, the acting regional commander of the Congolese army ensured that there would be, after the elections, strong pressure on the Mai-Mai to join other soldiers in a unified Congolese army.

UNESCO and its partners are aware there is still much to be done to prevent the extinction of the hippo population of Virunga National Park and maintain, for future generations, the integrity of the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. Support from the public is critical to achieve the withdrawal of the five World Heritage properties from the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger and the sustainability of funding for their management.

UNESCO will pursue its contacts with the Congolese authorities, urging them to take necessary measures for the conservation of Virunga National Park in accordance with their obligations under the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

For more detailed information on measures taken and goals of the program, please see the attached document.

For additional information on UNESCO activities in the DRC, please consult World Heritage Papers n°17 "Promoting and Preserving Congolese Heritage". An electronic version is available on the World Heritage website at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/series/17/