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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Total is present in Uganda through its wholly owned subsidiary Total Exploration & Production Uganda B.V (hereinafter Total Uganda), developing an oil project called “Tilenga” on the shores of Lake Albert. Total owns 54.9% of the project and is its operator. Its partners are the Chinese oil company CNOOC, with a 33.33% stake and Britain-based Tullow… Read More

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The continuing importance of parks While community forests and conservation areas are a good way to build trust and a sense of stewardship and responsibility in the local community, national parks are still an essential conservation tool. “I think you still need parks, because you still need to have areas where biodiversity is totally protected,”… Read More

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“Because we do not love the earth and the things of the earth but merely utilize them…we have lost touch with life…We have lost the sense of tenderness, that sensitivity, that response to things of beauty; and it is only in the renewal of that sensitivity that we can have understanding of what is true… Read More

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The latest Virunga Alliance report for the July-August-September 2019 quarter reports the birth of 5 new baby gorillas in Virunga National Park, located at the East of the country. However, a baby is dead. With the 4 survivors, the total number of gorillas now stands at 147 in this nature reserve. “Mountain gorillas are doing… Read More

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By Willy Mutunga, The writer is Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya and President of the Supreme Court Nelson Mandela belonged to that exceptionally rare and endangered breed of the African elite that broke vernacular barriers to build a Rainbow Nation. With considerable effort and remarkable foresight, he harnessed diversity into a common nationhood.… Read More

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A Third of the World’s ‘Protected’ Areas Are Under Threat Six million square kilometers are under intense pressure from human activity. The world map is peppered with patches of protected land, ostensibly ringed by clear borders that seem to safely shield our few remaining wild areas from human encroachment. But the reality on the ground… 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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