The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) was established in 1991 as a coalition of three international conservation organisations. Its current partnership consists of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Mountain gorillas, listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, live in the Afromontane forest habitat of Central Africa, spanning the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their numbers are estimated to be around 880 as of September 2016. The aim of the IGCP is to protect the remaining numbers of mountain gorillas and their natural habitat.
The primary threats to the mountain gorillas are habitat destruction, poaching, disease, and civil war and unrest. IGCP’s conservation projects aim to mitigate these threats by collaborating with local communities and key stakeholders to strengthen mechanisms for transboundary migration of the gorillas and increase protection of their borders. Restore Our Planet supported IGCP to protect the Gorilla’s shrinking indigenous habitats within the national parks. By providing the local communities with an alternative source of wood for fuel and construction, as well as promoting the use of energy-saving cooking stoves, they helped to preserve the habitat by reducing pressure on the surrounding forest. Restore also helped support IGCP’s work with communities who are planting fast-growing exotic tree species and native bamboo in carefully managed woodlots – reducing the need for illegal harvesting within the national parks and maintaining critical food sources for the gorillas.
While the forest itself has been boundary fenced to act as a physical barrier to illegal encroachment, successfully reducing human-wildlife conflict, the IGCP projects also encourage sustainability through the establishment of community-based livelihood strategies. Amongst these are enterprises like curios-making and beekeeping. The most recent research, conducted in 2010, shows an annual growth rate of 3.7% in response to these efforts. IGCP, along with its partners, hope to continue with these strategies in order to ensure the viability and longevity of the mountain gorilla species.
Young mountain gorilla in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.
Photo © Juan Pablo Moreiras, FFI
Photo © Julie Larsen Maher WCS