Much research on nature conservation in war-torn regions focuses on the destructive impact of violent conflict on protected areas, and argues that transnational actors should step up their support for those areas to mitigate the risks that conflict poses to conservation efforts there. Overlooked are the effects transnational efforts have on wider conflict dynamics and structures of public authority in these regions. This article describes how transnational actors increasingly gained influence over the management of Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and how these actors contributed to the militarization of conservation in Virunga. Most scholarly literature suggests that ‘green militarization’ contributes to the extension of state authority over territory and population, yet this is not the case in Virunga. Instead, the militarization of Virunga translates into practices of extra-state territorialization, with the result that many in the local population perceive the park’s management as a project of personalized governance and/or a ‘state within a state’. This article thus argues that it is important to depart from an a priori notion of the ‘state’ when considering the nexus of conservation practices and territorialization, and to analyse this intersection through the lens of public authority instead.