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

New armed attack, perpetrated in the morning of Wednesday 24 June 2020, against guards of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN), inside the Virunga National Park.  After the terrible killing of four civilians and 13 staff members of Virunga National Park on 24 April, this latest attack fills us with consternation and… Read More

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Closed to tourists, pandemic is taking major toll on Virunga’s finances, local economy, as park reels from recent violence. SOPHIE NEIMAN June 2, 2020 Stretching some 3,000 square miles, Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is the oldest and most biodiverse national park on the African continent. It was designated a… Read More

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Despite the global plunge in oil prices, a major pipeline that would carry oil 900 miles across East Africa is moving ahead. International experts warn that the $20 billion project will displace thousands of small farmers and put key wildlife habitat and coastal waters at risk. BY FRED PEARCE • MAY 21, 2020 Imagine a tropical version of… Read More

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This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it. We have lost the contemplative dimension; we have to get it back at this time. Excerpt from “Pope Francis says pandemic can be a ‘place of conversion’” by Austen Ivereigh  I was curious to know if the Pope… Read More

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More than 265 civil society groups around the world are calling upon the Chinese government to ensure that COVID-19 related financial relief for struggling Belt and Road projects flows only to high quality overseas investments that meet stringent criteria aimed at protecting people and safeguarding the environment. The organizations urged China to avoid bailing out projects… Read More

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More than 20 local civil society groups in North Kivu have expressed their concerns with regard to the surge of insecurity in and around Virunga National Park. It is with deep consternation that we learned today, Thursday, 24 April 2020, of the attack on a convoy of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature… 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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