Don’t be alarmed. The photo above is not an emergency scene, it is a training scene.
From October 3rd to 5th, 40 HuGo team members from different corners around the Mikeno sector participated in a training held in Bukima on the edge of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
‘HuGo’ is short for Human Gorilla Conflict Resolution. What these teams do is provide important community-embedded support to the Virunga National Park rangers in their work to protect the critically-endangered mountain gorillas of the park and reduce the conflict that can take place between farmers living on the edge of the park, and the gorillas that sometimes leave the park to raid their crops.
In short, they are the front line of mountain gorilla protection. A vitally important role, especially in times of insecurity. And one that they do as volunteers.
While the traditional work of these community volunteers is to safely repel gorillas when they feed on farmers’ crops, in recent years, they have been called upon to assist park guards in patrols as well. During the training, Innocent Mburanumwe, Warden in Charge of Southern Sector of Virunga National Park acknowledged the efforts of the HuGo members in contributing to anti-poaching efforts, and the dismantling of poachers’ snares.
The courses delivered in early October included theoretical and practical elements focused on the tactics used in safely encouraging gorillas to return to the park, gorilla identification techniques, gorilla health monitoring, and protocols for safety and first aid.
After training, the new uniforms were distributed as well as drums and bells to chase gorillas.
This report from Altor Musema, IGCP’s Country Representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who assisted Virunga National Park staff in the recent training.
Check out the post by Virunga National Park on gorilla.cd: http://gorillacd.org/2013/10/20/virunga-community-volunteers-receive-first-aid-and-operational-training/