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Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo 2017 Goldman Prize Recipient for Africa

In 2010, the Congolese government sold SOCO International, a British oil company, the right to explore for oil in an area known as Block V, about half of which extends into…a World Heritage Site…Rodrigue Katembo, 41, is a Congolese park ranger who grew up during the turbulent years following the country’s independence from Belgium…In 2011, during one of his regular morning patrols, Katembo came across a handful of vehicles that offered [him]..money in exchange for letting them pass…To carefully document evidence of corruption, [he] met with a film director who helped with undercover cameras to record footage of SOCO and its contractors offering bribes and discussing illegal activities.

Katembo and the footage he gathered during his undercover investigations were heavily featured in the documentary film Virunga. The film premiered in April 2014 at the Tribeca Film Festival and gained a massive international audience through Netflix…A few months later, in November 2015, SOCO announced it was giving up its oil license in Block V.

Since SOCO’s departure from Virunga, wildlife in the park is showing signs of recovery... Katembo has paid an enormous price for his activism. In September 2013, he was arrested and tortured for 17 days…Since then, Katembo has been promoted to director of Upemba National Park, where he continues to protect the park and wildlife from poachers, militia, and extractive industries.

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Related companies: SOCO International