Category Archives: Wildlife

Can we protect hippos from poaching in Virunga?

Major causes of declines in wildlife in developing countries witnessed during the recent decades have been population growth, habitat fragmentation, inadequate land use practices and management, lack of economic alternatives, and unsustainable use of resources. In a conflict region like the Easternof the Democratic Republic of Congo, the fauna has been targeted by different armed groups and local people for meat and illegal wildlife and wildlife product trafficking. Among species that have been most poached is thecommon hippopotamus.

Hippopotamus in Ishasha River near a Ranger camp

In Virunga National Park (ViNP*) for example, numbers dropped by 98% from 30,000 in the 1970s to 629 individuals in 2006. With increased patrolling and transboundary cooperation between the DRC and Uganda park authorities, there is hope that hippopotamuses will still exist in Virunga National as the Ishasha river still inhabit a bit of hippopotamus population.

Hippopotamus in Ishasha River near a Ranger camp

The patrolling efforts along the hippopotamus habitats are still low and there is need of closer monitoring to protect them from poaching for bushmeat.

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Thanks to Robert J., Anna, Jessica, Emmerentiane and Antonio for their support to our activities!

 


* The abbreviation ViNP to distinguish Virunga National Park in DRC from Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda

Elephant and rangers’ harmony in Virunga

Through our Elephant monitoring program in collaboration with ICCN rangers in Kabaraza station, we have been able to protect three different herds of elephants.

Through daily monitoring  of elephants, rangers are able to monitor and locate elephants for their protection from poaching.

Elephant at the Mabenga barrier

On 29th, I visited the forest and met up with more than 50 elephants. I was surprised that elephants sighted us before we could and we were scared. As we were moving making some noises, the elephants were scared and took off. I was told by rangers: “they must be around our camp by now as they feel safe around there”. Fifteen minutes later, we were at road (barrier) and met with more than fifty elephants in three different groups.

It is unbelievable that, although elephants have been poached for the last decade in Virunga,  you can get closer to this herd of elephants thanks to the devotion of rangers.

There is need to continue supporting this activity as we hope this herd can restore elephant population in Virunga Park. In 2008, we estimated more than 280 individuals in three different groups.

Field gears and ranger rations are needed by ranger and further support for monitoring.

Thanks to those who are supporting my work in Virunga.

Virunga Elephant To Be Protected

Virunga National Park as first National Park in Africa is facing several threats despite the efforts from rangers and conservationist to protect its resources.

One of its resources is African elephant (Loxodonta africana) inhabiting different ecosystems of the park from the forested areas to the savanna areas.

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Elephants in Virunga have been killed in Virunga for the trophy. Due to the occupancy of the park by armed groups, elephants have moved to areas closed to ranger posts with limited movement. Once they want to move, they are killed and forced to stay in limited area.

In order to protect them form this daily threats, rangers have been trying to plan for daily patrols and observations. Three groups of rangers have been monitoring about 300 elephants in Kabaraza ranger station with limited food ration and basic field equipment.

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Any help for these elephants is an input to Virunga conservation

Thanks to Antonio C., Nancy A. and Robert J.G. for their support to our work


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LOOKING INTO ANIMAL EYES

Wildlife is more interesting when people try to look into their eyes. When you try to look into wildlife eyes, you think about their needs in terms of habitat, food, shelter, movement. When people kill wildlife, they don’t look into their eyes; they look on their bodies, shape and trophies, etc.

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Virunga NP is facing poaching for both commercial and domestic needs in bushmeat. In order to discourage this process which can lead to species depletion, rangers carry out patrols in the Park with support from NGOs working in Conservation. This action is done also during any monitoring of wildlife in the park.

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This has been one of the toughest missions of rangers during these two decades in Virunga Park and ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature) has lost over 100 rangers on duty. As a consequence, there are widows and orphans without assistance.
But also, rangers are working under pressure in need of field equipments and shelter. Some of the ranger posts have been rehabilitated with partners’ support; others are still in traditional status and makes rangers vulnerable to any armed attacks as they face it frequently.

Helping rangers, saves the most biodiverse and the oldest Park of Africa!

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We are proud of individual donors who have donated to this project and specially Robert J.G.