Conservation and tourism groups want Uganda's government to end plans to drill for oil in a lake on Uganda's western border with Congo, saying oil exploration there threatens Africa's oldest national park.

All six new oil licenses being offered by Uganda's government are for exploration in protected areas, including one that extends into Congo's Virunga National Park.

More than 60 conservation and tourism groups, including Global Witness and the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement Thursday that oil activity in the Lake Edward basin may have a devastating impact on Virunga.

Lake Edward, which lies across Uganda's border with Congo, "is at the heart of Virunga's precious ecosystem," the groups said, adding that oil exploration there will also be harmful to Uganda's growing tourism sector.