Borders will matter less to central Africa’s mountain gorillas, following the launch of a strategic conservation plan which covers adjoining areas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There are only about 720 gorillas left in the tropical mountain forests shared by the three countries. The gorillas’ natural habitat is threatened by the destruction of these forests and the great apes themselves are victims of poachers. Yet, the gorillas are the main tourist attraction for the area, earning these countries about $5 million every year, and are thus critical to the livelihood of local communities.
The three countries launched their 10-year Transboundary Strategic Plan last week in Kampala. Also launched was a 4 million euro transboundary conservation project funded by the Dutch Government.
The new transboundary strategic plan aims to improve community livelihoods and contribute to the stability of the region. It will also assist in strengthening and making similar the three countries‘s policies and laws on the conservation and management of the protected areas.
“This is an exciting development”, said Dr Susan Lieberman, a director at the World Wildlife Fund “We applaud this tremendous contribution of the government and people of the Netherlands, which recognizes that species conservation and sustainable development and poverty alleviation go hand in hand.”
The project is part of the 10-year strategic plan developed by the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), the Office Rwandais du Tourisme et des Parcs Nationaux (ORTPN) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and is supported by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). IGCP is a coalition of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), and Fauna & Flora International (FFI).