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

On November 1st, 2027, the last living mountain gorilla was killed by poachers in the Congo. For the International Festival of Animal and Nature Photography in Montier-en-Der, the photographer Gilles Martin invited visitors to witness the primate’s symbolic burial with an impressive photographic installation. The memorial featured photographs of mountain gorillas accompanied by the text…

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A must read article about what it entails to create a transformative and sustainable prosperity in Africa, and to keep places like Virunga forever. African governments need to switch from a predominant extractive economic model to a people and human knowledge orientated development pathway. Digging for oil and minerals not only shatters pristine environments and…

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Great Apes Infographic Highlights World Heritage Importance Designed by Laura Darby (www.lauradarby.com) Watercolors by Charity Oetgen (www.artbycharity.com) (24/04/2015)© GRASP / Charity Oetgen, Laura Darby The endangered chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos found at World Heritage sites in Africa and Asia underscore the importance of these forests and mountain ranges and are highlighted in an infographic released…

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A fabled park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is under pressure from oil developers. And activists allege the dealings are tainted by corruption. Jeffrey Young full article was published on April 20th In VOA Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to volcanoes and some of the world’s few remaining mountain…

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Here are some old photographs of the Frankfurt Zoological Society that has provided support to Virunga since the 1950s. FZS has been involved in biodiversity conservation in the Virunga ecosystem since Bernhard Grzimek visited the park in the 1950s. In the 1980s, FZS supported the very first habituation of mountain gorillas for tourism, and eventually, for…

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Open Letter to His Excellency Mr. Prime Minister and Head of Government, Democratic Republic of Congo . The civil society organizations working for the promotion and protection of the Environment and Human Rights in North Kivu (CREDDHO, FECOPEILE, IDPE, SOPR and CREF Network), in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, are grateful for…

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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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