Straddling the equator in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa’s oldest national park is the size of a small country. This treasured World Heritage Site has 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. It’s also home to about a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.
So when we heard UK oil company Soco wanted to explore for oil inside Virunga National Park, we had to draw the line. Some places are just too precious to exploit.
We launched a global campaign to get Soco to drop their plans. Our petition collected more than 750,000 signatures, and we pursued a complaint against the company for breaching OECD guidelines on corporate behaviour.
And it worked. In June 2014, Soco agreed to abandon its plans and pull out of the park and not to conduct any operations in any other World Heritage site.
Now we’re calling for all oil companies to stay out of Virunga National Park, and for the government to cancel all permits to explore for oil in the area.
At the same time, we’re supporting a prosperous long-term future for the people who live in and around the park by promoting the sustainable development of industries like ecotourism, hydropower and fishing.