During this two weeks, we’ve been conducting biological surveys in Semuliki area (Virunga National park). I got to look for cutters and trackers who coils help us to get into the forest to find our lines.
Later on, I discovered that the people we were using are organised into a local association called OAN (Organisation des Amis de la Nature = Organisation for friends of nature). Among the activities they are conducting:
local communities of Mwenda have been able to protect a patch of forest closed to Mt Ruwenzori (DRC) where occur chimpanzees. They have been following these cousins of human without any support (technical or financial). They are kin monitoring chimps even if they don’t have any field equipment, field ration during monitoring or data sheet, etc.
If supported, they can help to save these threatened species of which their numbers is going down everyday.
They have field staff moving in the field everyday hiking the base of Ruwenzori.
Wildlife protection is the key of their activities but they add in some other activities that can support the wildlife related activities. They’ve got some farm to grow vegetables at small scale. It’s known that the small scale agricultural activities is enough to fulfil all the food needs for the household. But when it comes to diversifying economic activities, you need to increase and improve your techniques of growing food. Thus, this local organisation needs to get different agricultural inputs to make their activity important for conservation.
Our country (DRC) is among countries where citizen still depend more than 95% on natural timber resources for different options without alternatives or suitable techniques. For cooking or building, the main product to use is still timber. People have to look for trees to cut to fulfil these needs. In order to reduce and make people aware of the future danger, OAN has been trying to put in place some areas to make available trees for plantation in the village. Still, the area covered and the target is still not enough.
This has been made possible in combination with public awareness and sensitisation.
Charcoal made out of wood
information gathering about wildlife killing
protect wildlife doesn’t rely only on rangers or again on patrols. There is need of information gathering in order to get some targeted places chosen by poachers. This information can be made available through different channels. In this specific area (Mwenda), this local organisation is helping to provide information about different actors involved in illegal exploitation of natural resources within the Park. They collect information from different villagers and get information to managers through different ways, depending on how the manager is confident to them and dedicated to the protection of the Park.
So, it’s possible to protect protected areas and community forests with local organisations within the village by providing them capacity!