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

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Cabinet of Minister has approved the auction of 16 oil blocks, including in one of the world’s largest carbon sinks and most environmentally sensitive areas. And if that was not enough they seem to be targeting Lake Upemba, inside of Upemba National Park. Despite the “good words” of the Hydrocarbon… Read More

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This week we celebrate our 10 year Anniversary. All started in April 2012, when the risk of oil exploration in Virunga National Park was just beginning to surface. Communities were not prepared, no one really was, or knew what to expect, but one thing certain was that we were not going to give up on… Read More

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Key Message from Congo’s Park’s Rangers During the Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen Rangers Killed in Virunga

KEY MESSAGE FROM CONGO PARK’S RANGERS ON THE SIDELINE OF THE CEREMONY TO COMMEMORATE THE FALLEN RANGERS KILLED DURING THE EXERCISE OF THEIR FUNCTIONS TO PROTECT THE PHYSICAL INTEGRITY OF VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK AND ITS BIODIVERSITY Madam, State Secretary in charge of Conservation and Environment, Mr. Ambassador of the United States in the DRC, On… Read More

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“IUCN recognises that extractives industries can be significant contributors to the global economy”. Maybe we made a mistake about the postal address and sent our letter to the World Bank instead of to the International Union in charge of Conservation of Nature? Many conservation organizations have adopted corporate friendly practices with the oil and gas industry, signing MoUs, developing frameworks for engaging… Read More

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Over 200 Congolese and international NGOs have signed a widely circulated open letter ahead of COP26 calling on the DRC government to crack down on “illegal activities” in protected areas. The planned construction of a hydroelectric plant in Upemba National Park to supply electricity to mining companies is feared to pose a threat to the… Read More

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Ahead of COP26, 234 Congolese and International organizations call on the Head of State of the Democratic Republic of Congo to put an end to the illegal exploitation of protected areas. The Group of Civil Society NGOs working for the protection of the environment in DRC, ROPE, and supported by 43 international civil society organizations,… 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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