Category Archives: Surveys

How research helps to protect protected areas

Mushroom in Virunga Park

Mushroom in Virunga National Park

As in the previous information, Mont Hoyo is very interesting for both tourism and research. For tourism as it has some potentials described latter and for research as there has been no research in the forest as we know.

The plan was to survey the area in order to gather biological information and give some useful recommendations. As a forest reserve and following DRC law, it must be fully protected and no human activity is allowed.

In our visit to Mont Hoyo, we noticed that there are several illegal activities carried by local population and some armed people. It has been a plan to get the army responsible to know that there are some illegal activities carried by armed people (soldiers) and nothing has been done on their side. In order to ensure that there is no shooting from these poachers, some actions were planned to arrest the poachers without shooting as people in the area are still stressed by war.

We planned the survey and get military and political authorities to know that we are planning a survey. Even if the security situation has worsened in the neighbouring areas of Mont Hoyo, this plan has been used to arrest the armed poachers in Mont Hoyo.

They were called to join the researcher team for administrative purposes and guide them while the real purpose was to get them arrested. This has been done and they are under arrest.

The other case is, during the biological surveys conducted in Semuliki (Virunga Park); during the research work, several poaching materials are destroyed and removed and large area is covered and give an global picture of the status of the area to manager. E.g.: there have been a hundred of snares removed from the Park, some area not covered by ranger patrols have been covered and the local community sensitised during evening walk in the village.

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Left: Rope snare sample found in Virunga National Park – Right: Ranger in research team getting GPS data

With the money gained from surveys, local communities are aware that, if the protected area is destroyed there will never be any research in the area and they may not get any visitor compared to other areas where they are helping protected area managers to conserve.

The worlds forgotten paradise – the Albertine Rift

Hello everyone, I am Deo Kujirakwinja, just call me Deo! I work for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on the Virunga Conservation Project.

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I was born and studied in Goma and have been working for Virunga National Park since 2003. I conduct biological surveys, this is me during a recent survey.

First, let me tell you about this amazing Park. Virunga Park is contiguous to 11 protected areas and reserves in Rwanda and Uganda. This is one of the most special places on the planet, its called the Albertine Rift. In a recently conducted by WCS in which I participated, we found a high level of biodiversity in the gallery forests and woodlands, including chimpanzees, bongos, buffalo, elephants, leopards, and several types of monkeys, including a subspecies of colobus monkey found only here. We also recorded a high diversity of birds, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as some plants that may be new to science. In our two-month expedition we discovered 6 new species!!!! These include a bat, a rodent, two shrews and two frogs. I believe that this forest contains some interesting new species because it has been isolated from much of the Congo Forest block for at least 10,000 years. But due to poaching, we hardly saw any large mammals.

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To effectively manage the area, there is need of collaboration with other managers to tackle regional threats. This has been one of my favourite jobs in the northern and eastern Virunga for transboundary resource management collaboration activities which has improved relationship between Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN)

My job involves ranger-based monitoring system: in order to get the status of the forest, I have been helping ICCN staff to launch the surveillance data gathering and management system for the whole Park. This involves capacity building actions including field based training for staff involved in Ranger-based monitoring and technical support.

As you all know from the gorilla blog, a consequence of civil war in DRC has been destruction of park infrastructure (ranger post), looting of field equipments and it is a hard work to re-establish the infrastructure and get rangers motivated and equipped.

I’ve been leading biological surveys in Virunga Park and other forests in Eastern DRC. Some people wonder why I do this in such a difficult area. Well, I am committed to contributing to better conservation of wildlife in DRC, particularly in Virunga National Park.