Heard of Virunga? It’s Africa’s oldest national park, and a treasured World Heritage Site.
Rainforests, volcanoes, rare and beautiful wildlife – Virunga has it all. People who live and work there know it’s a very special place.
But Virunga is at risk of becoming Africa’s newest oil field. When we heard UK oil company Soco might explore for oil inside Virunga, we had to draw the line. Some places are just too precious to exploit. Find out more about Virunga and the oil threat.
Virunga national park is the size of a small country, straddling the equator in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It’s got more than its share of wonderful wildlife – not just huge numbers of unique birds, but African icons like lions, elephants, hippos, chimps and the remarkable okapi. And some very very rare gorillas.
Soco’s plan to explore for oil isn’t the only threat to Virunga – civil unrest and wars have put pressure on local people, wildlife and resources on-and-off for years. But we believe oil exploration would bring a new and unacceptable level of risk for Virunga’s environment and communities.
Some people say local communities in Virunga will benefit from oil exploitation. We think it’s unlikely. We’ve seen how oil exploration can have serious negative impacts on wildlife, habitats and people in many places.
From the initial aerial surveys, to road-building, pipeline-laying, and of course the potential oil spills and pollution of land and water. (Lake Edward, in Virunga’s internationally important wetlands, is crucial for local livelihoods and food.)
– from the World Wildlife Foundation