We have lobbied the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Government on their duty and international obligations to protect all their wildlife. We have also reminded the DRC authorities that wildlife populations bring sustainable development and economic benefits, especially for establishing a viable tourism industry. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Jim Knight, visited Virunga National Park in September 2005 and personally lobbied the Congolese Minister of the Environment. We will continue to raise with the DRC Government their duty to protect their wildlife. We also frequently urge the DRC Government to do more to control the activities of the militia groups that are reportedly killing wild animals including hippos in eastern DRC.
Poaching of wild animals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been seriously exacerbated by the beginning of armed conflict in DRC in 1996. Researchers from academic institutions and non-governmental organisations believe that several species, including hippopotamus, rhinoceros, elephant and okapi, are under threat from poaching. The recently reported killing of wild animals including hippos by militias in eastern DRC has left hippopotamus populations at dangerously low levels, according to academics. We continue to press the Congolese authorities to do more to prevent poaching of wildlife and remind them that the country will not be able to pursue sustainable development or prosper economically if it does not protect its wildlife.