Patrol Posts: IGCP’s (Your) present to mountain gorilla conservation

IGCP has handed over patrol posts in Sarambwe Natural Reserve in DRC as well as in Nkuringo near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. These patrol posts were built with support from IGCP’s private and foundation donors including Berggorilla und Regenwald Direkthilfe for Sarambwe; and the Arcus Foundation, Chris Powles, and HDH Wills for Nkuringo. Additional funding came from the European Union through l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) in Sarambwe as well as the Uganda Wildlife Authority in Nkuringo.

Now rangers are better supported in doing their important job of protecting mountain gorillas night and day throughout the year. And they are gifts that will keep giving to mountain gorilla conservation for many years.

Sarambwe is unfortunately easily left off the maps and discussion of mountain gorilla habitat, and wasn’t formally designated as a protected area until 2006 when the government of DRC officially created the natural reserve and appointed ICCN to manage it.

Its nine hundred hectares are quite valuable to the viability of mountain gorilla populations, as two unhabituated mountain gorilla groups (Makale and Kahanga) regularly call it home. Sarambwe in DRC is continuous with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda and mountain gorillas can freely cross from one side to the other. In fact, the Rushegura group of Bwindi spent extended periods of time in Sarambwe in 2008 and 2009.

ICCN/Virunga National Park rangers patrol Sarambwe to protect the mountain gorillas and guard against the illegal destruction and exploitation of their habitat. The rangers also work with local communities so that the multiple use zones (or areas of the reserve that are open to regulated use by the community) are being managed and used appropriately, given that most communities depend on what the reserve can offer for firewood for cooking. Until this year, the rangers would combat these threats and challenges from a series of small huts.

The former quarters for rangers charged with the protection of Sarambwe Gorilla Special Reserve in DRC.

The former quarters for rangers charged with the protection of Sarambwe Gorilla Special Reserve in DRC.

Sarambwe rangers outside of their new patrol post pictured with IGCP staff Dr. Augustin Basabose, James Byamukama, Eugene Rutagarama, Altor Musema, and Jerome Baguma (not in uniform from left to right).

Sarambwe rangers outside of their new patrol post pictured with IGCP staff Dr. Augustin Basabose, James Byamukama, Eugène Rutagarama, Altor Musema, and Jerome Baguma (not in uniform from left to right).

In Nkuringo in Uganda, a newly constructed patrol post was officially commissioned on December 18 by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, IGCP, and local governments. The patrol post symbolizes the invigoration of this section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Mountain gorilla tourism activities have increased in this area thanks to significant investment in the range of accommodation available, and tourism is likely to continue increasing once the habituation by the Uganda Wildlife Authority of Kahungye group is complete. This patrol post will give rangers a home base from which to conduct their work.

IGCP Director Eugène Rutagarama (left) and Acting Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority Dr. Andrew Seguya officially open the Nkuringo patrol post on Dec 18, 2010.

IGCP Director Eugène Rutagarama (left) and Acting Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority Dr. Andrew Seguya officially open the Nkuringo patrol post on Dec 18, 2010.

IGCP, the Protected Area Authorities, and most especially the rangers are grateful to the private donors and foundations that made these two patrol posts possible. There is need for new additional patrol posts around Mikeno Sector in Virunga National Park, DRC as well as refurbishment of patrol posts in Bisate, Rwanda, and Nyakagezi, Uganda. Please support IGCP through this website or contact IGCP’s Director, Eugène Rutagarama at erutagarama@awfafrica.org to make these possible in 2011.

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