Albertine Rift

WCSProgramDescription

Select project:

WCS activities to support the conservation of Grauer’s gorilla date back to 1960 when George Shaller made the first ever maps of the range of this ape in eastern DRC.  A follow-up survey was made in the early 1990s to estimate the population size of Grauer’s gorillas. This survey estimated about 17,000 individuals in several separate populations with about 47% of the population residing within Kahuzi Biega National Park.  This survey finished just before the civil war in DRC erupted in 1996 and subsequently it has been very difficult to operate in this part of Eastern DRC because of insecurity.
 
Our work on Grauer’s gorilla focuses on three main areas:

1. Identifying locations of existing populations
WCS has been undertaking surveys of the region since the early 1990s to identify where populations of Grauer’s gorilla occur. This ape is generally found in small populations in remote montane forests and although there is still natural forest between the various populations we do not believe there is much movement between them. As a result it is important to know where the populations occur and then estimate how many gorillas are found in each population. Our surveys in Itombwe Massif have identified some new populations of this ape to the south of where George Shaller recorded them thereby expanding the overall range for this animal.
 
2. Monitoring of population numbers
We have been undertaking surveys in Kahuzi Biega National Park to estimate the impact of the civil war in DRC on this ape. While it has been difficult to access the same areas that were surveyed in the early 1990s we have been able to survey much of the lowland and highland sectors of Kahuzi Biega National Park since 2000.  The results to indicate that Grauer’s gorilla numbers are about 20% of what they were in the early 1990s. To be certain of these results we want to survey the same areas as those surveyed in the past because it is possible these areas contained more gorillas. Security is increasing to the point where this may be possible in the near future but our results to date certainly indicate a major decline in the species population size in this park.

3. Protection of Grauer’s gorilla habitat
Most of our efforts for this species concern the protection of the remaining habitat for this ape. We are supporting ICCN in its management of Kahuzi Biega National park, in particular supporting the re-establishment of a patrol post on the western side of the park to improve law enforcement in the lowland sector. We are also working with other partners to conserve the Itombwe Reserve by zoning the reserve with local communities to finalize the gazettment of this reserve. We are looking for funds to survey the area west of Kahuzi Biega Park where the proposed Punia Community reserve would be established and which contained about 8,000 gorillas in past surveys.

In 2011 WCS participated in the development of a species action plan that was developed for both the Grauer’s gorilla and the eastern chimpanzee in the Maiko-Itombwe Landscape. A process led by the Jane Goodall Institute, this plan identified critical objectives that need to be addressed to save both of these species in this region, particularly the need for land use planning as development interests start to move into the region.

 

Conservation Challenges

Conservation Approach

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

The Greater Mahale Ecosystem comprises the Mahale Mountains National Park in western Tanzania and the surrounding natural habitat. Together with the Gombe National Park to the north and the Southern Tanganyika region to the south these areas contain all of Tanzania’s chimpanzees (other than those introduced to Rubondo Island). In the Greater Mahale Ecosystem only 11% of the natural habitat is protected and this is in the Mahale Mountains National Park together with the Tongwe East Forest Reserve.  Species of conservation concern in this landscape include the eastern chimpanzee which occurs in some of the driest habitat anywhere throughout its distribution, red colobus, elephant, lion, sable, Kungwe apalis – an endemic bird that is only found here, and several plant species only found here also, particularly in the Sitebi highlands.

The total number of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and plant species recorded from this landscape to date number 1,939, of which 15 species are endemic to the Albertine Rift and 28 species are threatened (CR, EN, VU) under the IUCN Redlist (2010).

 Landscape Mammals  Birds Reptiles Amphibians Plants
 Endemic species 0 2  1 0 22
 Threatened species 6  2 0 0  20
 Species number  71  473  28 22  1,345

 

Conservation Challenges

This part of the Albertine Rift has much lower human population densities compared with further north. However, the settlement of refugees from the wars in Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the landscape has led to loss of habitat and settlement in the region by Tanzanian nationals also. Illegal logging for timber in forests outside protected areas and increasing fire is likely to lead to forest loss and degradation over time. People settling in the area tend to locate themselves near natural forest as these tend to be near water sources and have fertile soil. As a result small riverine strips of forest, critical for chimpanzees and the endemic Kungwe apalis, are disappearing.

 

Conservation Approach

The WCS Southern Highlands Program manages conservation of Southern Tanganyika region and is working to conserve the  remaining forest and connecting corridors in this landscape where the most southerly population of chimpanzees occur in Africa. The WCS Albertine Rift Program undertook surveys of the Greater Mahale Ecosystem in the mid 2000s with Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), to estimate chimpanzee numbers for the area as well as assess the other diversity of the landscape. The results were used in developing a ten year conservation plan (report 1, 2, 3) for the Greater Mahale Ecosystem led by JGI and Frankfurt Zoological Society together with TANAPA and TAWIRI (Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute). They were used in a project managed by Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) to start to develop conservation activities in the broader landscape. JGI  led the process to develop a conservation action plan for chimpanzees (12 MB) in Tanzania which built on the data collected during these surveys also. Since the surveys JGI have started a program in the Masito-Ugalla region in the northern sector of the Greater Mahale Ecosystem but to date there are critical needs for conservation activities in the Sitebi highlands region east of Mahale Mountains National Park where most of the endemic plants and the Kungwe apalis are found. WCS is still active in the Southern Tanganyika region but at present has no activities in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem.

 

 

 

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

The Greater Virunga Landscape is one of the most biodiverse landscapes in the World, if not the most biodiverse. Containing three World Heritage Sites (Virunga, Rwenzori Mountains and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks) one Ramsar Site (Lake George and Edward) and one Man and Bisophere Reserve (Queen Elizabeth National Park) it has been recognized as an area of global importance. Virunga National Park forms the backbone of this landscape and connects to the Volcanoes Park in Rwanda together with the Mgahinga Gorilla, Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains, and Semuliki National Parks in Uganda. These parks in turn connect to Kibale National Park, Kasyoha-Kitomi, Kalinzi and Renzori Forest Reserves, and Kigezi, and Kyambura Wildlife Reserves. Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Sarambwe Reserve and Echuya Forest Reserve are often considered part of this landscape although they are no longer connected to the main part of the landscape by natural habitat. 

About 88% of the natural habitat in this landscape is protected with the possibility of expanding the landscape to the north to include an existing corridor of forest between Virunga Park and the Mt Hoyo Reserve in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The landscape contains a wide diversity of habitats because of its wide range in altitude from 5,100 metres a.s.l. in the Rwenzori Massif to 600 metres in the lowland forests of Semuliki. The landscape also contains two of Africa’s most productive lakes, Lake George and Edward, which are important for fisheries that sustain people living in the landscape. Species of conservation concern in this landscape include the World population of mountain gorillas, chimpanzee, elephant, what was once the largest population of hippopotamus in the world, Red colobus monkey, Golden monkey, lion, spotted hyaena, leopard, golden cat, Rwenzori duiker, Rwenzori Otter Shrew, Rwenzori tauraco, Green broadbill, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Shelley’s crimsonwing, and reptiles such as the Rwenzori Strange-nosed chamaeleon.
 
The total number of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and plant species recorded from this landscape to date number 5,164, of which 211 species are endemic to the Albertine Rift and 109 species are threatened (CR, EN, VU) under the IUCN Redlist (2010).
 

 Landscape Mammals  Birds Reptiles Amphibians Plants
 Endemic species 31 35  15 19 141
 Threatened species  28  18  1  9  53
 Species number  293  890  135  91  3,755

 

Conservation Challenges

In the 1960s this landscape contained the highest biomass of large mammals per square kilometer ever recorded on earth with the World’s largest hippopotamus population at 30,000 individuals and large numbers of elephants, buffalos, black rhinoceros and several antelope species including waterbuck, topi and Uganda kob. Over the past 40 years though it has experienced protracted conflicts which has led to the decline of the large mammal numbers in the landscape, first in Uganda in the 1970s and early 1980s and then in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This is having knock-on effects on the vegetation of the landscape which used to maintained as large areas of grassland and open woodland in the savannahs by the large herbivores but is now becoming more wooded and closed as a result of the decline in large mammals.  In addition several invasive plant species are invading the landscape including Lantana, Cassia, and Parthenium.

Some parts of Virunga National Park still contain armed rebels and this is a threat to parks staff and the conservation of the landscape but in Uganda and Rwanda the protected areas are fairly well managed now. Mountain gorilla tourism generates significant revenues for the parks in these countries and as a result the southern part of the landscape is well funded and protected.  Some of the highest densities of people living in Africa occur around the southern end of the landscape (up to 1000 people per square kilometer) and around most of the landscape human population densities are high. The protected areas have become effectively islands in a ‘sea of agriculture’ and as a result there are increasing conflicts between people and the protected areas as animals raid their crops or kill their livestock. This in turn leads to increased poaching for bushmeat or poisoning of raiding animals which is causing declines in populations of large carnivores in particular. Oil prospecting is starting in the landscape, bringing a new threat with possibilities of opening up areas with new roads leading to increased poaching for bushmeat as well as threats of degazettment of areas.

 

Conservation Approach

WCS has been active in the landscape since the late 1950s when we supported Dr George Shaller to undertake his pioneering research on the mountain gorilla. Since then we have supported Uganda’s national parks and the Makerere University in Kampala to undertake research. We helped establish the Makerere University Biological Field Station in Kibale National park in the early 1990s following support to a field station in this forest since the early 1970s, managed by Dr Tom Struhsaker.  We also supported Dr Amy Vedder and Bill Weber to undertake their PhD research in the Virunga Volcanoes which led onto the establishment of mountain gorilla tourism. Since the creation of WCS’s Albertine Rift Program the focus has been on helping the three protected area authorities in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC (Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Institut Congolais pour la Conservation da la Nature (ICCN) respectively) to view and manage the landscape as one coherent conservation area rather than separate protected areas. We were involved in a process led by the the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) to develop a memorandum of understanding between the three governments to agree to collaborate on the management of the whole landscape and in developing a strategic action plan for the landscape. We have been supporting transboundary collaboration between Uganda and DRC for Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains, Semuliki and Virunga National parks (the area north of the mountain gorilla area where IGCP had developed transboundary collaboration) since 2003.
 
We have piloted a conflict resolution approach together with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and developed a manual for conservation practitioners to learn how to manage and minimize conflict. Where we have piloted the approach we have created governance structures that provide a forum for parties to voice concerns and to work together to find mutually agreeable solutions to the conflict. These have been supported by national government in some cases following  the end of funding by donors because of their ability to improve governance in an area where little governance exists.
 
We have been helping develop monitoring programs for the protected areas in the landscape with UWA, ICCN and RDB and monitoring plans have been developed for all parks in the landscape that use ranger-based monitoring as well as more targeted monitoring studies. UWA had developed a computer software, MIST, which takes ranger-collected data and enables simple analyses to be made taking search effort into account. WCS helped roll this software out from Murchison Falls Park to all parks and wildlife reserves in Uganda and also to all parks in Rwanda and to several of the parks in DRC. It has also been taken up by several other countries around the world.  Population monitoring of the large mammals has also been supported by WCS with the regular assessment of large mammal populations form aerial surveys and ground counts being made by UWA, RDB and ICCN staff with support from WCS. These include Mountain gorilla censuses in the Virunga Volcanoes and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, chimpanzeeand elephant censuses in Kibale National park, Kasyoha-Kitomi, Kalinzu and Maramagambo Forest Reserves and aerial surveys of the savannas of the whole landscape for large mammals.  These surveys have also helped improve methods in the counting of wildlife species. We have also been undertaking research into some of the threatened species in the landscape, particularly elephants, lions, and vultures as well as looking at the impacts of the changes in large mammal numbers on the savanna vegetation in the landscape.
 
We also have been supporting direct management of the parks including supplying field gear and uniforms for park rangers, rehabilitating park patrol posts, supporting the general field operations of ICCN and UWA and supporting the removal of invasive species in the landscape.

 

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

Deo Kujirakwinja, who manages the Eastern DRC program for WCS as well as working within the Albertine Rift Program, made a survey of hippos on Lake Edward for his MSc thesis. He undertook one of the most comprehensive surveys of this species anywhere, obtaining correction factors for aerial survey counts by undertaking waterborne counts at the same time. His estimates for the number of Hippos in Virunga Park in 2010 was about 1,000 individuals.

Estimates made by UWA in Queen Elizabeth Park are around 5000 individuals from ground/waterborne counts. In the 1960s Lake Edward and George had supported 30,000 hippos. Today there are only about 6000 hippos. What impact this decline in hippo biomass has on the ecosystem is uncertain but it could be significant. Hippos feed on grass at night within 3-5 km of a lake or river and then defaecate during the day in the lakes. The nutrients they add to the lakes support Tilapia which are the main species harvested by fishermen on the lake and the decline in the fisheries on these lakes, formally some of the most productive in the World, may be in part due to the decline in hippo numbers as well as over fishing.

In the same study that assessed the impacts of elephants on vegetation in Queen Elizabeth Park we also assessed the impacts of hippos on vegetation. The results showed that hippos had more impact on the composition of the habitat with species such as Euclea racemosa, Rhus natalensis, and Azima tetracantha increasing in cover where hippo density has been high. Dichrostachys cinerea a woody shrub or small tree has also increased in cover where hippo density has been high because it is not fed upon by the hippos and is has no competition. Large areas along the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth Park are dominated by this plant now. It is likely that with time elephants will knock the species back to a more natural density.
 
We support anti-poaching efforts in Virunga Park to control the poaching of hippos and are working to improve fisheries management on Lake Edward in Virunga Park to reduce the level of illegal activities on the lake. We will also continue to support monitoring of hippos on Lake Edward.

 

Conservation Challenges

Conservation Approach

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

The Albertine Rift is also home to some of the highest rural human population densities (up to 1,000 people per km2), and also some of the poorest households in Africa. People use natural forests and savannas to supplement their household income from cultivating crops and raising livestock. In some areas of the Rift access to forest products increases household incomes by up to 35% per year and they often provide income during times of year when crops are not ready for harvesting and income is minimal (the hungry gap). In addition the sale of forest products often provides the extra cash needed to pay for schooling of children or medical bills.

There is also a cost that people face when they are living next to protected areas or natural habitat, usually from depredation of their crops or livestock by wild animals. This leads to human-wildlife conflict and often negates any programmes to work with communities to obtain benefits from the protected areas.  Any conservation in the region therefore needs to address the needs of people living around the protected areas and natural habitats in each of the landscapes.

 

Conservation Challenges

Conservation Approach

In the Albertine Rift WCS has preferred to partner with development NGOs rather than implement development projects ourselves, partly because we generally don’t have the expertise in this area, but also because the funding for conservation is limited and partners can access additional funding for development activities. Instead we have tended to focus on providing information to highlight the current situation and help plan projects that improve the livelihoods of people in the areas where we work.

One of the first activities the WCS Albertine Rift Program made was to hold a workshop on human-wildlife conflict to bring together experts in the field to develop a document that would summarise lessons learned and approaches to tackling such conflicts. The first report in the Albertine Rift Technical Report Series was produced: Human-wildlife conflict: identifying the problem and possible solutions from this workshop. Following up on this we have made several socioeconomic surveys around the protected areas in the Albertine Rift to assess the impacts of human-wildlife conflict on households and which crop raiding species are perceived to be the most important to tackle.

We have also worked on assessing how people benefit from forests in various sites in the Albertine Rift as well as in Uganda as a nation. WCS worked with the Uganda National Forest Authority (NFA) with support from the EU Forest Resources Management and Conservation Programme to put a value on the livelihood and ecosystem values of forests in Uganda. Surveys were carried out around four forest types; protected Afromontane, and Medium Altitude Tropical High Forest, forest on private lands and savanna woodland.  This study showed that natural forest and woodland contributed income totaling 5% of Uganda’s GDP in 2004 to people living next to forest and woodland as well as to the nation as a whole . These and other results are summarised in a report: Bush, G.K., Nampindo, S., Aguti, C. and Plumptre, A.J. (2004) Valuing Uganda’s Forests: A Livelihood and Ecosystems Approach. The results of this study were publicised at national level to influence policies regarding use of natural forest.

We have assessed the socioeconomic status and income from forests in most of the landscapes where we work in the Albertine Rift and have developed several reports which highlight the importance of people’s access to natural resources (see publications section under Human livelihoods). These studies provide baseline assessments from which changes in people’s livelihoods can be assessed. An assessment has already been, by Pam Jagger of Indiana University comparing with baseline data we collected in the Murchison-Semliki Landscape, that shows that household income has decreased for the poorest people because of widespread loss of natural forest in the region.

WCS also supported the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) together with CARE to undertake an assessment of the impacts of various integrated conservation development projects (ICD) around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Following its establishment from a forest reserve to a national park in 1991, local communities lost a lot of access rights to the forest. To compensate for this loss several projects were developed that: a) improved agricultural production, b) established a trust fund that provides funding for schools and health clinics and more recently economic development projects, c) tackled human-wildlife conflict, d) provided revenue from tourism gate receipts to local communities for development projects, e) developed a program that tackled the needs of the Batwa community, and f) allowed controlled access to certain resources in the park such as harvesting of medicinal plants and allowing bee hives in some sectors of the park. The assessment was published as a report: Development and Gorillas: Assessing fifteen years of integrated conservation and development in south west Uganda.  It shows that the ICD projects definitely improved relations between local people and the park authorities and that aspects of their livelihoods had improved. However it also showed that they had not had much impact on the level of illegal activities in the park. In other words attitudes had changed but this hadn’t led to behavioural changes yet. In part this was because the poorest people, who are more likely to be involved in the illegal activities because of a lack of options, were not specifically targeted and did not benefit greatly from the ICD projects greatly. This has led to changes in approaches to working with the communities and there is more of an approach to target the poorest households now.

In response to these assessments we have looked at options for increasing income to people and have been investigating carbon financing options through REDD+ at several sites.  These projects are also starting to link to private sector companies to work on ways of improving agricultural production around natural forest while at the same time generating funding form carbon credits by conserving the forest.

We have also started a program to tackle human-wildlife conflict between pastoralists who are losing livestock to lions in and around the Queen Elizabeth National Park. This is primarily aimed at improving rangeland and herding practices outside the park to reduce the risks of lion attacks on their livestock. It also aims to improve water supply to households so that they don’t have to bring their livestock into the park to get water.

In the Maiko-Itombwe and Marungu-Kabogo Landscapes we are working with local communities to develop new protected areas in a participatory manner, involving them in where the limits of the protected areas should be placed and in designation of different zones from core protected areas to multiple use and development zones

 

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

Over the past 10 years there has been increasing interest in the search for mineral resources in East Africa and Eastern DRC, much of it driven by China’s needs for raw materials for its industries. Several large mining companies are moving into eastern DRC such as BANRO and Ashanti-Anglo Gold to look for gold or columbo-tantalite (COLTAN) amongst other minerals. Oil prospecting has also been taking place around most of the lakes in the Albertine Rift with significant finds occurring in Uganda around Lake Albert.  These industries are already leading to major development projects and consequent impacts in the Albertine Rift.

 

Conservation Challenges

Conservation Approach

WCS’s Albertine Rift Program and Uganda Program have been engaging with the oil industry in Uganda with the aim of minimizing the impacts of oil exploration and production in the region. This approach was adopted because the Wildlife Law in Uganda allows exploration for oil within national parks and the potential revenue it could generate for the country made it unlikely that it could be stopped. However, tourism is currently the main foreign currency generator for the country, and it would be unwise for the country to destroy this industry which will last a lot longer than the 20-30 years it is predicted that the oil will last.

WCS initially brought in expertise in the oil industry in Louise Johnson, who had been the Biodiversity Specialist for British Petroleum and is now a freelance consultant. She made an assessment of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process as well as an assessment of the potential impacts the oil industry could have and suggestions on ways these could be minimized. This analysis led to a major program which aimed to build the capacity of stakeholders in the oil industry in Uganda from Government employees in the Petroleum Department and Wildlife Authority, to EIA practitioners, civil society groups, and even the oil company staff themselves, in best practice methods and ways to minimize impacts.

WCS Uganda also worked with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to develop an Environmental Sensitivity Atlas and pushed hard for a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the cumulative impacts that oil drilling will have on the environment. All EIA’s just look at the impact of a particular oil pad or drilling rig project and ignore the fact that as more and more rigs are established the impacts increase cumulatively. An SEA will address the wider impacts over time and the oil companies have agreed to move ahead with this.  We have also developed a training DVD and supported the Uganda Christian University to incorporate training materials we have developed in their courses across several subjects from oil and gas to environmental, business, legal and community action courses.

WCS Albertine Rift and WCS Uganda together with the Uganda Wildlife Authority also established a monitoring program in Murchison Falls National park to monitor the impacts of oil drilling and oil pad establishment on large mammals and birds. The results show that most species react to the presence of of the pad by moving away up to 750-1000 metres from the pad when the pad is being constructed or drilled but that when the pad is just being maintained they will return to within 250 metres of the site. Whilst this shows that the development of a single pad may not be expected to cause undue harm, the development of several pads at close range will have an undesirable impact over a much larger area.

Identifying Trade-offs for Biodiversity Offsets

WCS has been developing an approach to assess trade-offs in options for land use in order to be able to plan and adapt to the increasing industrialization of the Albertine Rift region. This approach uses conservation planning software such as Marxan to help identify which areas are critical for conservation of the endemic and threatened species, and which areas are less critical and where there are different options when taking decisions about where to target conservation activities. Sites where options are possible can also be sites where biodiversity offsets could be applied.

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

Many challenges to conservation exist in the Albertine Rift region and WCS’s Albertine Rift Program works with the various country programs in the region to tackle them.  Some of the challenges form direct threats to conservation through removal of habitat or species while others are more indirect in their effects.  WCS International identifies four main challenges that it seeks to address and provide expertise in: 1) human livelihoods; 2) climate change; 3) disease threats and 4) extractive industries.

While these four capture most of the challenges in the Albertine Rift there are others that deserve specific mention and we have highlighted eight on this web site:

  1. Climate change
  2. Connectivity
  3. Conflict resolution
  4. Industrial development
  5. Human livelihoods
  6. Transboundary conservation
  7. Methods development
  8. Capacity building

The last two are less challenges and more specific needs to be able to improve conservation in the region. We describe the various challenges and show how WCS is tackling each of them on their respective pages.

 

Conservation Challenges

Conservation Approach

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

Currently WCS provides technical and financial support to the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation, a research station linked to Mbarara University in Uganda which undertakes research for the Uganda Wildlife Authority in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks. The types of research projects made there include:

  • A study of the impact of tourism on gorillas
  • A study of the ecology and ranging of the gorillas
  • Censuses of mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Virunga Volcanoes
  • An evaluation of conservation strategies in and around the parks.
  • Methods to reduce human-wildlife conflict
  • Monitoring of human use of the forest
  • The importance of edge effects on forest composition and human impacts.
  • Monitoring the impacts of climate change

Conservation Challenges

Conservation Approach

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

Albertine Rift landscape
At the initiation of the Albertine Rift Program, WCS was asked by the MacArthur Foundation to lead a process to start to develop a strategic plan for the conservation of this region.

A core planning group was formed, elected by protected area authorities from each of the five countries in the Albertine Rift (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) together with other NGOs (national and international). This core group was comprised of Albertine Rift Conservation Society, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, International Gorilla Conservation Programme, Makerere University, World Wildlife Fund and WCS.

The planning group developed a Strategic Framework Plan for the conservation of the Albertine Rift in 2004 within which six key landscapes were identified as sites for a conservation focus:
  1. Murchison-Semliki Landscape (Uganda)
  2. Greater Virunga Landscape (Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda)
  3. Maiko-Itombwe Landscape (Democratic Republic of Congo)
  4. Congo-Nile Divide (Burundi, Rwanda)
  5. Greater Mahale Ecosystem (Tanzania)
  6. Marungu-Kabogo (Democratic Republic of Congo)

 

Subsequent planning has been taking place at each of these landscapes to develop detailed ten year conservation action plans for the landscapes. 

 

 

Conservation Challenges

Conservation Approach

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

Large Carnivores such as lions, hyaenas, leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs as well as medium sized carnivores such as jackals and golden cats are all threatened by the increasing human populations in the Albertine Rift.  As human population density has increased, the edges of the protected areas have become increasingly hard with human cultivation forming a fixed boundary around many of the protected areas in the Albertine Rift. Those carnivores that can take domestic livestock, particularly lions, hyaenas and leopards are most threatened because people do not want to have them around their homesteads. In the landscapes of the Albertine Rift these species are regularly poisoned in retaliation for livestock losses and the poisoning event also kill other species such as hyaenas and vultures which scavenge on the poisoned carcasses.  WCS has targeted the conservation of these carnivores, particularly lions and vultures in the Greater Virunga Landscape together with the Murchison Falls National Park, because it is clear their numbers have been declining, yet they form an important part of ecology of these ecosystems, removing sick and injured animals (thereby reducing disease spread) as well as being important components of the national tourism industry and important for the economy of Uganda.

We have undertaken surveys of lions and hyaenas using play-back methods of distress calls of prey animals which show numbers as few as 140 lions in the Queen Elizabeth Park and 130 in Murchison Falls Park together with 210 and 40 hyaenas respectively.  These are all very low numbers and while there are a few lions and hyaenas in Virunga Park they probably don’t increase the population size greatly. There is a need to monitor and manage these populations closely if they are to remain viable.

 

Conservation Challenges

Conservation Approach

Goals

Activities

Threats

Accomplishments

Page 3 of 5First   Previous   1  2  [3]  4  5  Next   Last   

Enter Title

Text/HTML