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

Be warned. Since the 15th of September of 2016 the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague will start prosecuting people, such as company executives and politicians that commit crimes against the environment. Environmental crimes such as environmental destruction, pollution of water sources, illegal exploitation of natural resources and land grabbing will now be considered… Read More

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When protecting Virunga much focus has been put on its immense biodiversity and on being the home to the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. Virunga was established in 1925 as Africa’s very first national park but is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar Site. Virunga’s Lake Edward lies completely within Virunga National… Read More

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On the 9th of September 1,300 government and civil society members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) passed Motion 26. This motion declares the six IUCN Protected Area Management Categories and four Governance Types as well as Sacred Natural Sites to be “no go zones” for extractive industries and developers. Unfortunately… Read More

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Global Rights Alert and 28 of her partners have written to Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Joseph Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo calling on the two leaders to stop any planned oil projects on Lake Edward. The 2,325 square kilometre lake located in the Albertine Rift Valley is shared by both countries. GRA wants Presidents Museveni and… Read More

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This year at the World Conservation Congress you can be a part of a movement to end industrial activity in protected areas. Discover how you can help keep Earth’s natural wonders wild. What humanity needs right now isn’t another incorrectly-placed oil drill or logging concern. What we need is protection for our designated, already ostensibly… Read More

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Bantu Lukambo and Josué Kambasu Mukura have risked their lives while working to protect Virunga National Park, which is exposed to many threats including extractive activities, poaching and armed conflict. Engaging with local communities, they strive to demonstrate the huge potential of the park as a sustainable way out of poverty. Virunga National Park, Democratic… 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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