The goal of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) is to ensure the conservation of mountain gorillas and their regional afromontane forest habitat in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The conservation efforts have been interrupted by war in the area. They are now in the process of starting up their program again.
Mission:"To conserve the critically endangered mountain gorillas and their habitat through partnering with key stakeholders while significantly contributing to sustainable livelihood development."
In a conflict zone, however, long-term strategy sometimes has to be sacrificed in favour of day-to-day survival. The dangers facing the people on the ground have been enormous, and many park guards have lost their lives. “At the height of the conflict, the best IGCP could do was support the staff on the ground in the three parks, so that they could continue to operate as safely as possible”, recalls Eugène Rutagarama, IGCP Director.
An attempt at reestablishing mountain gorilla monitoring in Virunga NP
Yesterday, May 24, Virunga National Park sent a team of rangers back to Bukima in an attempt to reestablish the monitoring of habituated mountain gorillas that range in that area. The hope was to locate the gorillas after several weeks without contact. That last few weeks have been volatile, with rebel movements within the National Park and intense fighting raging between rebel militias and the Congolese army on the park’s edge in Bikenge and Jomba. (IGCP stock photo from Bukima)Unfortunately, things didn’t go as smoothly as planned. The reconnaissance team fell into an ambush approximately a kilometer from the Bukima patrol post. Fortunately, all rangers and community members who redeployed survived the ambush and the rangers have reoccupied the patrol post in an attempt to retain a park presence.
Amidst all the uncertainty in the last weeks, one thing is certain – the rangers of Virunga National Park are very courageous.
IGCP is working with our coalition members African Wildlife Foundation, Fauna & Flora International, and the World Wide Fund for Nature to secure emergency funding directly for Virunga National Park to help the park cope with the the current situation and recover from it once the fighting stops.
And all of us here are hoping the fighting stops soon and the park can once again be a haven for the critically endangered mountain gorillas and not a haven for militias.
International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) - About