On the 14 Nov.2018, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) issued a statement pointing out that mountain gorilla came from “critically endangered” to “endangered” list. Known as the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it around the world, IUCN annually pushes a red list of critically and/or endangered species.
The statement mentioned that mountain gorillas remain listed as “endangered species”, their population is “recovering thanks to conservation action”. Mountain gorillas are flagship species in the Greater Virunga Landscape shared by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda. This landscape provides mountain gorillas with a unique habitat in the world and for more than a decade, the three countries have been collaborating for a sustainable conservation and tourism development in the region.
The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration Treaty signed between the three countries in 2015 has been a significant achievement of the transboundary collaboration initiatives focused on a sustainable conservation and tourism development through (i) the improvement of mountain gorillas’ habitat; (ii) the reduction/mitigation of Human-Wildlife conflicts, (iii) revenue sharing to improve the livelihoods of the communities living around the protected areas; (iv) law enforcement to address illegal activities in and around the parks (e.g. poaching), Security and Peace building for conservation partners (Protected Areas staffs, tourists, etc),(v) joint/coordinated patrols between rangers from the three countries, (vi) joint/coordinated mountain gorilla census in the Virunga Massif and Bwindi; etc.
According the results of mountain gorilla census in the Virunga Massif, as released this year (2018), it was observed that number of those “endangered species” increased from 680 individuals in 2008 to 1004 in 2018 thanks to conservation partners ‘efforts.
Despite those achievements, many challenges are still threatening conservation and tourism development efforts, and most of those challenges need to be addressed in a transboundary framework: the population growth in the landscape, peace and security, lack of sustainable funds to improve livelihoods of communities living around the protected areas, competition for natural resources in the parks, etc.
In that context, Dr Andrew G.Seguya, Executive Secretary of the Transboundary Collaboration, calls upon cooperation and joint efforts of all partners and stakeholders in conservation:
“While it is true that success has been registered following great effort from different stakeholders, we need not to relax, for if we do then we slip back to where we were. Sustained trajectory can only be achieved if we focus our efforts onto tourism like we have done for conservation. Concerted collaborative effort across the Greater Virunga Landscape in partnership with the communities living around the protected areas can lead to responsible tourism development for wildlife and people. It is therefore the role of the three countries that share this landscape to continue concerted efforts and actions to improve revenue sharing, community engagement, conservation and tourism”.
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