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 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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Marginalised for decades, Pygmy peoples are fighting for recognition and land rights. Even the term ‘pygmy’ is laced with historical racism and prejudice; they are not treated as equal citizens in their home country. At the heart of pygmy culture is their forest, central to their spiritual beliefs, and ancestral heritage it is also their source… Read More

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Virunga was the first national park on the continent of Africa. Today the Virunga National Park of the DR Congo is part of a three countries’ (including Rwanda and Uganda) group of protected areas covering the Virunga mountains, one of the planets hotspots with mountain gorillas as flag-ship species. For much of its long history,… Read More

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Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep. (Hamlet by William Shakespeare) Probably many of you know (or not) that the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Uganda are… Read More

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Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga is Africa’s oldest national park and is also the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area. The park’s 7800 square kilometers (3000 square miles) includes forests, savannas, lava plains, swamps, erosion valleys,… Read More

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Pursuing oil exploration and possible exploitation in Virunga is a good example of how greed has poisoned the souls of many. It is one of the too many stories of bad governments and bad businesses doing harm to their people and the planet, no remorse attached. In @DClimateJustice‘s insightful article, greed comes in many forms. Be it… Read More

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It was believed that  Virunga was saved after the withdrawal in 2015 of the oil company Soco who wanted to drill in the park. It was an illusion: Kinshasa has been negotiating the renewal of the controversial permit to an offshore oil company. It was June 2014. At that time, the British firm Soco International, after an… 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?”

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