Oil firm drops drilling Congo gorilla park under celebrity pressure.

Guardian: “Actress Anna Friel has said she was still “completely in shock” at the unexpected decision last week of British oil and gas company Soco to pull out of exploration plans in Africa‘s oldest national park, something she has been campaigning for on behalf of the wildlife charity WWF.”
“But while delighted at the decision, she warned vigilance was needed over what happened next in the park, situated in the volatile east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She vowed to step up her own efforts as a conservation campaigner, saying: “It’s still not safe and we really can’t rest on our laurels.”
….In what is one of the greatest successes by wildlife conservationists in many years, several groups had been campaigning against the Soco presence, especially after the DRC government indicated it was likely to give the company permission to drill. Last-minute mediation between WWF and Soco led to a joint statement being issued, just as Friel was planning a Trafalgar Square demonstration against any drilling in the area, home to the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world.
….Virunga was designated a world heritage site in 1979 but since then has become one of the world’s most volatile regions. The park has been at the heart of intense fighting between armies and militias like the Mai Mai rebel group for more than 20 years and is home to tens of thousands of people who fled the genocide in Rwanda. Many park rangers have been killed, by poachers or militias, and last month the Virunga chief warden, Emmanuel de Mérode, was shot and seriously wounded.”