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 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 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 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

Local campaigners in Virunga urge UK’s Serious Fraude Office to  take the allegations against the company SOCO seriously in order to protect local communities and save Virunga National Park. Local campaigners in Virunga, some of whom have suffered intimidation and scare tactics in the course of their activism protecting the national park, wrote to Clifford Chance to… Read More

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Stop Fossil Fuels, Fight for Justice, Save Virunga, Yasuni and all these other Places and Peoples You and I must take daily actions that make large-scale changes possible. Sometimes you meet someone, see a place for the first time, read a book, or watch a movie and you are reminded in one glimpse, one sentence,… Read More

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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… Read More

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View the story “Saving Virunga: Where We Stand” on Storify

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Since the publication of Pope Francis’ ” Laudato Si’ ” many have given their views on the Pope’s Encyclical letter on the care of the ‘common house’. Some call it the most “astonishing and perhaps the most ambitious papal document of the past 100 years, since it is addressed not just to Catholics, or Christians, but to… Read More

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Oil exploitation in Virunga’s block V is similar to the final of an important soccer game between the government with its petroleum allies, and the local communities that depend on inexhaustible natural resources and their supporters, civil society organizations working on the protection of the environment. Both teams have been trained to use the legal instruments that are at… Read More

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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?”


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

Learn How

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