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

10 questions UK oil company Soco International must answer as Virunga documentary is nominated for an Oscar Virunga, a stunning film about the struggle of park rangers to protect Africa’s oldest national park from the threat of oil drilling and rebel groups, has received a well-deserved nomination for best documentary at this year’s Academy Awards.…

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“As she serves us a dinner of Lake Edward tilapia—grilled with onions and cassava leaves, and accompanied by fried potatoes and extra pili pili sauce—she delivers an assessment of Soco that most residents of the area would agree with. A future of oil, she fears, will destroy Lake Edward’s fish and pollute the local land and water,…

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Local communities in Congo are too often left out of decision making and most certainly when it comes to natural resources. This region has a long history of violations of political, social, economic and environmental rights and is one of the most visible examples of the so-called “natural resources curse”, contributing to the destruction of local…

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Oil industry should pledge to avoid World Heritage Sites, article by  Chris Tomlinson Houston Chronicle columnist. A park ranger stands near an elephant in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Oct. 10, 2014. Environmentalists have been fighting to keep a British oil company from drilling in Virunga, Africa´s oldest national park. (Uriel Sinai/The New…

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This amazing lady changed modern conservation, we learnt from the events that sadly took her life. We now know that its essential to engage with the local population, have them involved with projects, enable and help them to conserve and earn at the same time. No longer can conservation ever be a blanket ban on…

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Allegations of human rights abuses and corruption, associated with SOCO International’s oil exploration in and around Virunga National Park, were discussed in the UK parliament this week. In the House of Commons on 17th December 2014, Pauline Latham MP OBE raised the Question: “Will the Secretary of State tell us what her Department has done…

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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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Steps to help local communities: say no to oil in Virunga

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