Toggle Nav

Help Save Virunga

Urge business and government to stop oil exploration in Africa’s oldest national park

river and sky

Africa's oldest national park could soon become its newest oil field

My inspiration to become a conservationist came 20 years ago, when I was deep in the pristine forest of Virunga National Park, which I like to call “the Yellowstone of Africa.” Found along the equator on the western edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the park is rich with a canopy of trees. It was the sounds of the gorillas and the stories of the people who rely on the natural resources of the park that made me want to work in Virunga and worldwide— to protect the environment for people and wildlife.

That’s one of the reasons why I am so disheartened that British oil company Soco International PLC plans to explore and drill for oil inside the park.

Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park. It could soon become the continent’s newest oil field if we don’t take action.

The park is also important for people and the local economy as more than 27,000 people fish in Lake Edward and it provides drinking water to 50,000 people. Countless more benefit from locally sourced fish, renewable energy and other park related activities. A new report finds the park is worth more than $1.1 billion annually if it is developed sustainably, rather than being given over to potentially-damaging oil extraction.

Tell Soco to publicly commit to stopping all exploration within Virunga—permanently.

WWF also calls on the DRC government to uphold its laws prohibiting environmentally harmful activities in protected areas. If Virunga falls, it could be the first of many dominoes to tumble—parks throughout Africa could also see their protected status slip away. Join us in drawing a line in the forest by telling Soco that Virunga is off-limits for oil exploration.

Thank you for joining me in this fight to protect Africa’s oldest park.

Take Action Today h

Allard Blom is WWF's Managing Director for the Congo Basin

  • women on hillside

    Women harvesting potatoes near Boukima village in Virunga National Park.

  • river and forest

    The Rutshuru river flows through an area of Virunga National Park that is being considered for oil exploration.

  • gorilla in woods

    Virunga National Park is home to populations of both mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas such as depicted here in Rwanda. Increased human activity and infrastructure needed for oil extraction within Virunga could lead to habitat degradation and place the park’s gorillas at significantly increased vulnerability to poaching.

  • hillside

    A village and a cultivated field on the edge of the Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is coming under increasing pressure from human encroachment.

  • hippo with baby

    Hippopotamus and calf (Hippopotamus amphibius) at Virunga National Park. Hippos are both an indicator of a lake or river’s health and a critical element for a fishery. Sustainable management of Virunga’s land, water and wildlife will have direct and indirect economic benefits for communities that rely heavily on the park’s natural resources.

  • boat on water

    Virunga National Park’s fishery industry is an employment source for about 27,000 people and has the potential to triple its production. Sustainable, well-managed uses of park resources, like fishing, provide stable, long-term economic benefits to local communities. Lake Edward is found in the oil concession under consideration and could soon be the site of oil exploration activities like seismic testing and exploratory drilling, which can have negative impacts on the environment.

How You Can Help