The Congolese government has recently rejected an environmental impact assessment conducted by British oil company, SOCO International, temporarily protecting Virunga National Park from oil exploration.
The fight isn't over yet, though. SOCO International and Dominion Petroleum still haven't fully abandoned their plans to drill in the iconic park, which provides a crucial habitat for hundreds of species, many that are rare or threatened with extinction.
The Congolese government also announced it will conduct its own environmental survey, giving hopes to SOCO and Dominion that their proposed project could still move forward.
Virunga National Park is a result of years of hard work by the government and locals alike. It is home to over 700 species of birds and 200 species of mammals including elephants, hippos and chimpanzees. Furthermore, it is a critical habitat for the endangered mountain gorillas.
According to the U.N., gorillas may disappear from almost all of their current range in as little as 10 to 15 years without proper protection.
Virunga National Park is Africa's oldest national park and has been declared a World Heritage Site. Locals depend on the park to support their families as much as the wildlife depends on it for survival.
Drilling in the park will create air and water pollution, noise and stress the already fragile ecosystem.
The Congolese government deserves praise for denying preliminary plans for oil exploration. Sign the petition below and tell SOCO International and Dominion Petroleum to act responsibly and abandon all future plans to drill in Virunga National Park.
Photo credit: Joost Rooijmans