GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo Oct 18 (Reuters) – Illegal gold-mining is destroying tracts of pristine rainforest in Congo’s Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site meant to be a haven for the endangered mammal nicknamed Africa’s unicorn, environmental organisations warned on Tuesday.
Industrial activities are supposed to be banned in the 13,000 square kilometers of the reserve in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo. Aerial photo evidence shows mining has persisted, the civil society groups said at a joint news conference to mark the international day of the okapi.
The Council for Environmental Defense through Legality and Traceability (CODELT) said the ongoing destruction was at odds with the authorities’ bid to promote Congo as a major player in the global fight to curb climate change thanks to its majority share of the Congo basin rainforest – the second-largest in the world.
CODELT and regional environmental group ACEDH shared photos they said were proof that miners were gouging out swathes of jungle along the Ituri river, which loops through the southern part of the reserve that is also home to endangered forest elephants and chimpanzees
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