Save Virunga gives a voice to local communities who depend on the survival of Virunga National Park for their livelihoods. We believe that local communities and civil society have a say in the decision and future of the region. Virunga should be a place where no oil extraction and pollution occurs, a place where people develop sustainable livelihoods based on healthy and intact ecosystems.

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Issues and Local Voices

What is Happening in Virunga and with the Communities?

Virunga National Park

The Virunga National Park  is Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse park. It is a 7800 square km National Park that stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Rwanda and Uganda.

The Oil Threat

The park’s future is threatened: oil has been discovered, and the Congolese government has awarded three concessions for oil exploration, which cover 85% of the park. Oil becomes the most important threat to the park, to the communities and to the ecosystem.

Lake Edward

Lake Edward is one of the Great African Lakes, on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
The lake was named by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley in honour of Prince Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII.

The Oil Company

SOCO International plc is an international oil and gas exploration and production company, headquartered in London. SOCO holds rights on the oil concession in BLOCK V (85%).SOCO’s contract allows them access to a big part of Virunga National Park threatening the park with disruptive seismic tests, forest clearing, underground drilling and the laying of oil pipelines.

The Communities

Virunga’s fauna and flora, as well as the political and security situation in the Great Lakes region are tied closely to the people and to the protection and preservation of this ecosystem. Disruptions in one element will lead automatically to changes in the others.

The local Defenders

Since the beginning of SOCO’s exploration operations in Virunga National Park, Environmental and Human Rights defenders have been fighting for the survival of the park and the respect of community rights. Many of them are facing threats when fighting for Virunga and promoting the sustainable development option for the region and communities.

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People Involved

The Team

SOPR

SOPR is a non-governmental organization that works to protect the rights of local communities and in particular the right to enjoy a healthy environment. SOPR focuses on the protection of the biodiversity and ecosystem of Lake Edward.

Save Virunga

Save Virunga brings out the power of local communities and conveys their messages to protect Virunga and preserve the integrity of its ecosystems for future generations.

Reseau CREF

RCREF is a network of non-governmental organizations that works to protect natural ecosystems and defends the rights and interests of the communities who depend on these natural resources.

IDPE

IDPE is an activist organization that works against ecosystem destruction and poaching with local communities. IDPE supports these communities in strengthening their position so that they have a say in the future of their environment.

CREDDHO

CREDDHO is a Human Rights non-governmental organization working to promote universally-recognized rights by defending the environment, democratic values and human rights.
Our Blog

Latest Updates

New study by IUCN released at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress shows life-supporting role of Natural Heritages. Natural World Heritage sites are not just iconic places with exceptional nature, they also provide benefits that contribute to economies, climate stability and human well-being.  The report highlights the economic benefits and cost-effectiveness of preserving the exceptional World Heritage…

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The actor turned environmentalist adds of ‘Virunga’: “You have grassroots people on the ground risking their lives for these last remaining places that are so vital” Leonardo DiCaprio has been an avid environmentalist for over 15 years, and started his own foundation in 1998 to preserve endangered species and their habitats, among other goals. This…

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Sir David Attenborough facing new battle to save the gorillas: An oil company’s alleged interest in primates’ habitat sparks outrage  An oil company’s alleged interest in primates’ habitat sparks outrage JAMIE MERRILL   . It is more than 35 years since Sir David Attenborough was memorably prodded, poked and groomed by rare African mountain gorillas in front…

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“Where environment and natural resource factors generate conflict, post-conflict peacebuilding efforts must tackle them directly in order to achieve durable peace. At the same time, the recognition that environmental and natural resources can contribute to violent conflict only underscores their potential significance as a pathway for cooperation and confidence-building in war-torn societies.” United Nations Environment Program…

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Even though the planet is experiencing a climate crisis, the oil industry is expanding to new frontiers, with the majority of such frontiers being mature forests or very sensitive areas.  Currently the world’s oil reserves are 800 billion barrels. If these reserves are burned, more than 320 billion tons of additional co2 would be produced,…

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The exploitation of natural resources has proven to be a major driver of conflict in DRC and the Great Lakes region. Oil exploration in Virunga has followed the same track with a poor local engagement, the total exclusion of communities from decision making and the criminalization of local protests against oil.  In light of the…

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Testimonials

What Our Supporters Think

 “For all of the people in the local communities of Virunga: We are listening, and we stand with you to protect Virunga and to protect the people in the Virunga region.”

“The idea of drilling a UNESCO world heritage site for oil is shocking. We have to keep it for future generations and protect the inhabiting species and not let them disappear in front of our eyes. I pray that the organisations and governments can put enough pressure on the DRC to recall any licences for oild explorations.”

“Thanks as always for these updates on the situation with oil exploration in Virunga.”

“A perfect and intelligent representation of the plight of the gorilla and draws all our attention to what is happening to this and so many other endangered species that we say we treasure-do we really?”

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