UPEMBA NATIONAL PARK -CONGO
Upemba National Park is among Africa’s oldest national parks located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Upemba national park was first established in 1939 under the Belgian royal decree which occupies over 1.75 million hectares due to its high biodiversity. Upemba national park protects approximately 1.800 different species that including leopards, lions, elephants, buffalo, and the Katanga impala that is endemic to the park. Upemba national park is the only DRC national park with the highest population of zebra and cheetah. Upemba national park also accommodates an array of other habitats that vary from grassland within the higher altitudes, woodlands, forests, lakes, and wetlands in lower altitudes.
Upemba National Park is facing many threats that range from illegal settlements, poaching, illegal miners, and hydroelectric interests. While Upemba national park lacks technical and financial support to minimize all those threats, the park’s rangers risk their lives in order to save the last elephant population remaining Katanga. some Parts of Upemba national park have been taken over by the Mai Mai groups already – Mai Mai is a locally heavily armed group of people.
In 2015 October they appointed a new park head who is responsible to combat wildlife crime in Upemba national park and protecting all the various threatened species within the park, especially the elephants. Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo is the newly appointed Chief Warden of Upemba National Park who is famous for his exemplary work when he was protecting Virunga National Park against oil exploration. Ever since Mr. Katembo arrived at Upemba national park there is a process of restoration in the state authority.