gorilla trekking

Uganda, Rwanda And Congo Join efforts for Sustainable gorilla conservation

Uganda, Rwanda And Congo Join efforts for Sustainable gorilla conservation
Having appreciated the high contributions of gorilla tourism to the governments of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, the three countries have agreed on how jointly they can promote sustainable gorilla conservation in the Virunga Massif. On 5th April 2018, tourism ministers from Uganda, Rwanda and Congo gathered in Kigali to endorse the greater Virunga transboundary collaboration (GVTC) aimed at protecting the Virunga massif. Uganda was represented by Ephraim Kamuntu, the, minister of tourism, wildlife and antiquities, Rwanda represented by Vincent Munyeshyaka, Rwanda’s minister of trade and industry Jose llanga lofonga the director general of forest resources represented Congo. Interestingly, this previous meeting was conducted three years after Uganda, Rwanda and Congo signed a treaty to promote sustainable conservation of the Greater Virunga landscape in 2015. The Virunga conservation area is a region shared by Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park in northwest, DRC’s Virunga national park in the east and Uganda’s Mgahinga gorilla national park in in the southwestern region. The Virunga massif also known as the Virunga volcanoes is a home to the highest population of mountain gorillas and 19 gorilla families have been habituated for trekking 10 in Rwanda, 1 in Uganda and 8 in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The major aim of the last meeting was to agree on which possible ways through which the three countries could jointly protect the endangered gorillas and promote sustainable gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. While in the meeting, the present tourism officials fixed September as a deadline for all countries to finalize their national processes in the ratification of the agreement.
The three countries are now to define a financing and profit sharing model from tourism revenues and also creating consensus on how to conserve the Virunga conservation area and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park.

Also, the responsible tourism bodies with the support of respective countries are responsible for preventing all illegal wildlife trade and poaching which are the major threats to the survival and increase of gorilla population in the world. Strong penalties are also required to deal with lawbreakers who encroach gorilla habitats and disturb them in their natural habitats.

Interestingly, all the countries agreed to combine efforts and abide to the duties and responsibilities necessary for the well being of the endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife in the Virunga massif. Mountain gorillas a re a key attraction in the Virunga massif and a major source of revenue which has promoted economic growth in the three countries. Tourism bodies were called on to collaborate together and strengthen their efforts for the wellbeing of the critically endangered mountain gorillas and their natural habitats as well as working out sustainable initiatives for the wellbeing of these critically endangered species and attract more travelers to come and take part in thus life changing gorilla trekking experience. The shared efforts go beyond protecting mountain gorillas to conserving other tourism resources in the Virunga conservation area such as the waters, birds, golden monkeys and Virunga volcanoes.

Also, gorilla countries were advised to embrace the latest technology to ease the tracking of gorilla movements and keeping records of mountain gorilla population, demographics, and health among others. The implementation of the treaty will also have a positive impact on the livelihoods of local communities adjacent to the gorilla park. Local people are given a certain percent of total revenue earned form tourism 20% in Uganda, 10% in Rwanda and 5% in Democratic Republic of Congo. The fact that these national parks share borders, mountain gorillas move freely within these countries, which make it more interesting. It’s the responsibility of the greater Virunga Trans boundary Collaboration to monitor gorilla movements, arrange gorilla tour packages and issue out gorilla permits.

Challenges
Inadequate funding is the major problem affecting gorilla tourism in the Virunga conservation area. The GVTC secretariat located in Kigali has for the last 10 years relied on the aid from the government of Netherlands which money is not enough to facilitate all the activities required for the wellbeing of the mountain gorillas and conservation of the natural habitat. Based on the last gorilla census, there are roughly 880 mountain gorillas shared by Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and the Virunga massif. A new gorilla census whose results arte to be released soon indicate that the population of mountain gorillas has risen to more that 1000 hence great hope for sustainable gorilla tourism in the region.

The increase of mountain gorilla population requires an expansion of the gorilla habitats to provide enough space. In January 2018, Rwanda development board received 27.8 hectares of land from the African wildlife fund to expand the land area of volcanoes national park.

In conclusion therefore, the Virunga conservation area is the best place to go for gorilla trekking. The area is a home to the highest population of mountain gorillas with 19 gorilla families habituated for trekking all rewarding you with a memorable wildlife experience.

Posted in Africa, blog, News.