We need to protect Upemba National Park for Nature & Future Generations
Stand-up with Congolese rangers, help them defend DRC’s natural heritage
This Petition will be sent to:
Mechtild Rössler, Director of the Division for Heritage and UNESCO World Heritage Centre
- Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN),
Dr. Cosma Wilungula, General Director of the Congolese Wildlife Authority
- Ministère de l’Environnement Développement Durable et Conservation de la Nature,
S.E. Mr Athys Kabongo Kalonji, Minister of the DRC Environmental Ministry
Help Congolese Park Rangers protect Upemba National Park, save its wildlife and support local communities, by giving Upemba and its rangers the highest protection possible.
Upemba National Park is one of the oldest national parks of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was first established in May 1939 on the basis of a Belgian royal decree with an area of 1.75 millions hectares because of its high value in biodiversity. It is home to some 1.800 different species, including lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and the Katanga impala which is endemic to the park. Upemba is the only national park in DRC with zebra and cheetah populations. The habitat of the park varies from grassland at higher altitudes, through forests, woodlands, to lakes and wetlands at lowest altitudes. Since 1993, its valley of the Lufira, from the fall of Kyubo to the junction with the Congo river at Kitembo, has been designated a UNESCO Biodiversity Reserve due to its a large concentration of mammals, reptiles, batrachians, birds, fish and a vast wetland.
However, Upemba National Park is confronted with many threats ranging from poaching, illegal settlements and the presence of illegal permits to mining and hydroelectric interests. While the park is lacking technical and financial resources to minimize the threats, rangers are risking their lives to save the last remaining elephant population of Katanga. Parts of Upemba have also been taken over by the Mai Mai groups– a local heavily armed group- and far better equipped than the park staff who have very little equipment or support. In December 2012, Atamato Madrandele, Chief Warden of Upemba National Park, was ambushed and killed by Mai-Mai militia. Since the assassination of Atamato, the Park has seen the poaching gain momentum.
In October 2015 a new head of park was appointed to combat wildlife crime in Upemba and protect the various threatened species, especially elephants. The newly appointed Chief Warden of Upemba National Park is Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo, well known from his exemplary work protecting Virunga National Park against oil exploration. Since Katembo’s arrival the park has engaged in a process of restoring the state authority over the extent of the park so that the numbers of wildlife can increase significantly. Today, protecting DRC’s threatened national parks does not come without risks. National parks are continuously facing severe threats and are damaged by encroaching human activities including extractive industries –oil and mining, logging, poaching, dams and infrastructure. Rangers, as much as nature, need our help to protect these last remaining wild places for future generations and the sustainable development of the populations living around.
Stand-Up on behalf of DRC’s Natural Heritage and endangered wildlife by supporting this petition and sharing it with others.
Remind world leaders that Congolese rangers need our help when protecting the integrity of protected areas against habitat and biodiversity loss. Rangers put themselves at great personal risk to protect environment for future generations.
Upemba National Park should be recognized for its “Outstanding Universal Values” for humanity; its has exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance, and represents major stages of earth’s history with the Upemba Depression, it contains important natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including many threatened species, such as the Katanga Impala, the last remaining cheetahs of DRC and elephant population in Katanga, native trees and many others.
Preserving Upemba’s “Outstanding Universal Value” against threats and supporting the work of its rangers will not only benefit biodiversity conservation, but is also important for the benefits that its ecosystems provide to global and local communities both for the present generation, and in the long term for generations to come.
Help the DRC government protect its natural heritage by signing the petition in support of Upemba’s nomination to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has designated Bassin de la Lufira (the Lufira river basin) as its fourth Wetland of International Importance. With the addition of this vast and exceptional wetland area, the country joins a select group of Ramsar Contracting Parties – Bolivia, Canada, Chad, Congo and the Russian Federation – with over 100,000 square kilometres under Ramsar protection.
The Site (Ramsar Site no. 2318), in the south-east of the country, consists of rivers and their floodplains, natural and artificial lakes and ponds, waterfalls, papyrus and other marshes, and marshy forests. The main river feeding it is the Lufira.
The prevailing soil and climatic factors ensure the maintenance of the Site’s unique biological diversity. Many endemic species are present: 16 bird species including the Lufira masked weaver, the Upemba masked weaver and the black-faced waxbill; 15 reptile species including the Upemba mud turtle, the lined water snake and the Mulanje water snake; and at least two endemic amphibians, the Katanga thick-toed gecko and the frog Afrixalus upembae. The Lufira Basin remains the only biotope for rare mammals such as the Grant’s zebra and the greater kudu, and it is also home to populations of giant sable and roan antelope.
The lack of control and regulation of mining activities and the related hydrometallurgical treatment plants presents a real threat to the Site. Its designation was completed thanks to the financial and technical support of WWF-International.
More at: Ramsar
Congolese park ranger risks life to protect DRC’s threatened national parks, Rodrigue Katembo has been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa for exposing illegal oil exploration in Virunga National Park.
Katembo is well known from his exemplary work protecting Virunga National Park against oil exploration.
Atamato Madrandele, Chief Warden of Upemba National Park, was ambushed and killed December 16, 2012 by Mai Mai militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reports the Upemba Conservation Project.