22nd March was a day well spent in the forest of Bwindi Impenetrable national park! IGCP in collaboration with Uganda Wildlife Authority joined by other census participants celebrated collaborative efforts and work well done by the participants of the Bwindi- Sarambwe 2018 census. The census that was conducted in two sweeps – March – May 2018 and October – December 2018 was concluded in December 2018. At the function one of the census team leads, Joseph Arinaitwe shared about their field experience – sending chills to everybody on how complex the task was, but, thanks to the commitment, resilience and team work of the field teams that made it possible for them to successfully complete the task.
According to the IGCP Director the field teams surveyed approximately 340 sq-km and collected fecal samples from gorilla nests to be used for genetic and pathogen analyses. She revealed that samples from the first sweep had been sent to the laboratory at the University of California in the US for analysis and were close to completion while the second lot was yet to be sent too in the coming weeks. Equipment was then handed over to Uganda Wildlife Authority for use in gorilla and chimp monitoring activities in Uganda.
Speaking at the meeting also, the GVTC Executive Secretary Dr. Andrew Seguya commended the efforts of all the census participants for the different roles they played and for the great spirit of partnership, emphasizing that partnerships are important for the success of any action. Dr. Seguya challenged the participants to take their work further to analyze the economic and social value of the Virunga landscape so that we can be able to defend them well from the tourism, conservation and development perspectives.
Officiating over the function as chief guest the deputy Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority Mr. John Makombo thanked IGCP and her partners for the financial support towards census. He also applauded the field teams for their bravery and commitment towards the successful completion of the census in the impenetrable Bwindi forest.
Mr. Makombo equally recognized the collaborative efforts of other participating institutions. “Today, we are not only celebrating the successful completion of the census, but also the collaboration of all partners, the increase in gorilla numbers, the change in their status and the development in and around Bwindi. Let us continue to work hard together so that five years from now, we come back to celebrate even more” Makombo said.The chief guest crowned the day with the handover of certificates of recognition to all the census field members present. The function was also beautified by music and dance interludes from community dance groups that praised the importance/benefits of the mountain gorilla and the park.
IGCP was lucky to have representatives from WWF – UK, Sweden, Denmark and Uganda Country Office attending the function with them.