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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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.
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Latest Updates

Bahait Lukoo Emmanuel—also known as Keita—brings courage and perseverance to Team Re:wild and we love him for that! As head of the southern sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he is responsible for responding to emergencies, monitoring wildlife and criminal activity, managing a team of rangers, working with surrounding communities in… Read More

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Virunga Congo’s Oil Saga: A story of shadowy deals, environmental burden and civil society protest

Theodore Trefon noted in 2016 that “Oil has become big business in the DRC and the subject of major deal making – more often than not by dubious partners. It is shrouded in secrecy and controlled by the presidency” (1). The oil and gas sector of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ranked 84th (among 89… Read More

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For the past years, we have fought for the protection of Virunga National Park and against oil exploration and exploitation in Africa’s oldest National park. We engaged in this battle not only because we wanted to safeguard one of its most iconic species, the mountain gorilla, but also because we believe that he Greater Virunga… Read More

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Today, May 21, 2021, a new network of Ugandans and East Africans from across civil society and the private sector have united to promote a new vision for a green East African economy and advocate for strategic investments across a diversity of sustainable, inclusive industries. Named the Inclusive Green Economy Network-East Africa (IGEN-EA), the network… Read More

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Around 1 million species face extinction in the next few decades and 10% of the earth’s wilderness has been lost in the past two decades. Humans depend on nature, but unsustainable activities are driving massive biodiversity losses and eroding cultures around the world at a rate higher than ever before in history. Without urgent action… Read More

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Over 260 organisations call on banks not to finance Total’s East African Crude Oil Pipeline With a final investment decision nearing, African and International organisations warn banks against joining $2.5 billion loan for a “manifestly irresponsible” project On the 1st of March 2021, 263 community and not-for-profit organisations from around the world urged the CEOs… Read More

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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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