Region: Republic of Congo
The long-term aim of the project is the sustainable conservation of western lowland gorilla and other wildlife in Republic of Congo through the training of trackers and rangers for wildlife protection and development of ecotourism initiatives to assist in funding protection and anti-poaching patrols, gorilla research and conservation projects.
The beneficiaries of this project include local communities surrounding the park in terms of employment through the tracking school, working for the research projects, as well as employment in the ecotourism initiatives started by the Congo Conservation Company. Additional benefits to local communities include training to fill positions at the two new ecotourism lodges recently opened in and next to Odzala-Kokoua National Park.
Expected outputs include trained trackers and rangers to assist with gorilla monitoring, research, as well as limited great ape tourism initiatives. In addition, general biodiversity monitoring is being carried out by guides and trackers during patrols which form part of a database shared with the Department of Wildlife and Forestry, as well as African Parks, who run Odzala-Kokoua National Park.
Gorilla and many other species are threatened by poaching for the bushmeat trade in and around Odzala-Kokoua National Park. Currently local communities do not benefit much from the existence of the park. Alternative income solutions need to be developed so that local communities living around the park can benefit from wildlife and the existence of the park. This will assist in reducing the amount of illegal bushmeat poaching within the park and in developing a long-term sustainable conservation model.
The project is important and necessary as it promotes conservation through supporting applied research on gorilla populations and their habitats through research fieldwork and monitoring, conservation education and community outreach, enhanced protection of at-risk ape populations, protected area management in important ape range, and most importantly strengthening local capacity to implement conservation programmes.
- Research of habituated gorilla groups to gain information for their long-term conservation.
- Monitoring of threats to gorilla survival with special emphasis on Ebola outbreaks.
- Continuation of community outreach and conservation educational programmes through the tracking school and community conservation education workshops.
The training of additional rangers and trackers will allow for increased monitoring of gorilla populations. The additional trackers will also assist in general biodiversity information collection as well as increased security for the gorilla populations being monitored.