Albertine Rift


WCS works to conserve species as well as wild lands or landscapes. In the Albertine Rift we have been targeting species that are either endemic or threatened in the region, or that are ‘landscape species’. Landscape species are those species that tend to be large-bodied, live at low density, have large home ranges and are often iconic and have socioeconomic significance. Many landscape species perform important ecological functions in natural habitats such as modifying the vegetation and creating habitat, dispersing seeds or are important in nutrient cycling. As a result these species require large areas of natural habitat and are often the first to be extirpated as a result of conflict with man. We have identified landscape species for the Greater Virunga Landscape using a detailed selection process as proposed by Sanderson et al. (see publications list) but here we summarise our work across the Rift on certain groups of landscape species.
Three groups of landscape species have been the target of studies in the Albertine Rift:

  1. Apes – chimpanzees, mountain gorillas and Grauer’s gorillas
  2. Large Herbivores
  3. Large Carnivores – lion, hyaena and leopard together with large raptors, particularly vultures

In addition to our work on landscape species we have also undertaken biodiversity surveys in all of the forests of the Albertine Rift using the same methods which allows us to compare the species richness and conservation value of the various forests throughout the rift. We are using these data to identify areas of conservation priority for the Albertine Rift.