DRC’s Virunga National park shuts to public due to COVID-19

Animal lovers will have to wait a little while to see gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Virunga National Park has closed to the public over fears of COVID-19.

‘‘We don’t know right now how seriously they will be affected but we do know that other human diseases that have gone to apes have had devastating effects like polio and even flu.

So I think we should be extremely cautious and make sure these animals simply don’t get these diseases by making sure that there is a huge distance between people and those animals even if it means that we shut down the tourism into those places for an extended period”, Chief Executive Officer of Wildlife Direct, Paula Kahumbu said.

The park, which is home to an endangered gorilla species will not allow tourists to visit the facility before June 1, 2020. “Virunga is a very vulnerable protected area and tourism there is really in its infancy.

I think this is going to have a huge impact on their sustainability and I call on all donors and governments that support these national parks in Africa to make it easy for the parks that need to shut down, to do so and survive and not risk an influx of poachers because of the reduced revenues”, Kahumbu added.

The 7,800-square-kilometres National park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.