Category Archives: Extinctions

News from Mount Tshiaberimu!

Hello, this is Jean Claude,

I recently went to Mount Tshiaberimu, a hidden corner of the Virunga National Park in eastern DR Congo, to monitor the few remaining gorillas in the area and happened to come across the silverback Katsavara who has not shown himself or his family in a while.

Katsavara is not too keen on meeting humans and has been quite aggressive toward some of the rangers in recent encounters. I guess in a way his behaviour is understandable as he is trying to protect his family since the security situation at Mount Tshiaberimu has not been the best in years. The constant fighting between military and rebels in the area – let alone the horrible act of poaching – has not only been of great danger to the gorillas but also to our local staff, and since Katsavara only has a handful of family members left he feels even stronger about protecting them.

Lucky me, I had my colleague Odilion’s camera with me, which allowed me to take the first pictures of Katsavara in 3 years from about a 100m distance. His family was nowhere to be seen but we are glad that we at least got a glimpse of the old silverback and found him safe and healthy, and who knows maybe next time I’m lucky enough to capture a new born. Until then I hope you will enjoy the pictures I took of Katsavara!

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Paying a visit to the Nyakagenzi gorilla group…

Here I am, in the presence of the handsome blackback Rukundo

Hi, this is Tuver,

Despite the insecurity troubling this part of DR Congo, work has to go on as usual. Luckily for me, this meant a trip into the Volcano National Park in Rwanda to check up on the Nyakagezi gorilla group. Actually, I was on my way to Kasese, where I attended a regional meeting of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration, so, along with a fellow journalist from Uganda, I seized the opportunity to go and see these amazing gorillas.

As you can see from the pictures that I took, the group is doing well, especially the two youngsters, Marc and Fred, who were playing the whole time I visited – luckily, the silverback Bigingo was patient and didn’t get too annoyed by their antics. And, despite the fact that this groups is not that used to having visitors – it is not open to tourists but has been fully habituated – all the gorillas were completely at ease, meaning I could watch them eat, sleep and play. So, enjoy these pictures and let’s hope the Nyakagezi group continues to go from strength to strength!

Despite not being regularly visited by tourists, the gorillas weren't worried about my presence

 

The youngsters Marc and Fred were playing under the watchful eye of blackback Bigingo

And here's Bigingo on his own, looking really impressive these days!

 

Gorilla conservation goes pedal powered!

Hi this is Sam at the Gorilla Organization’s Ugandan resource centre. The last couple of weeks have been very exciting for us. We have launched a brand new gorilla consrervation project in Western Uganda – Africa’s very first pedal powered cinema for conservation! This innovative cinema will be showing educational conservation films to school children and communities in some of the most rural villages on the edge of Mgahinga National Park. Prior to the launch of this project, many of the children, and even their teachers, had never seen a film before – and many had never seen images of gorillas.

Here is a photo of the pedal-powered cinema in action. The viewers take it in turns to pedal the bike, which generates enough energy to power the film!

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Madeline Westwood, the director of the Great Apes Film initiative, who is partnering with the Gorilla Organization on this project, and Colin Tonks, the “wonder technician” and inventor of the cinema, came to Uganda from the UK to set this project running.

The first film showings were amazing – at one screening as many as 800 children came along to enjoy the Gorilla Organization’s film. And they were so excited – it was wonderful to see. The bike adds an extra element of audience participation to the screenings and children where queuing up to do some pedaling and power the film!

The children were amazed at what they saw. Some were so interested in the gorillas, and are now so desperate to protect them that they wanted us to make sure that their parents could watch the film too – I have no doubt that each and every one of them went home to tell their families about what they had seen. This is a huge step for gorilla conservation – the more local people who what to protect the gorillas, the more likely the gorillas are to survive long into the future.

As well as providing invaluable conservation education, the bikes provide an entirely clean source of power. No petrol is needed, no electricity is needed and as a result there is no negative environmental impact of showing these films.

Conservation education is now reaching remote communities, villages with no electricity and a whole host of others who have never before been able to see films or access this type of education – for this we are extremely proud.  In the three weeks that the project has been running 11,600 school children, 184 teachers, 110 soldiers and 46 park rangers, all living around the Ugandan gorilla habitats, have seen the films – wow!

Here is a photo of children transfixed by the film and the bike in motion!

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Hello from Henry in DRC

Hello, my name is Henry and I would like to introduce myself.

Henry flag

I am the manager of the Gorilla Organization’s Resource Centre in Goma, DRC and I oversee all of our Congolese projects. The gorillas in DRC are threatened with extinction because of habitat loss, hunting and disease. We are facing these threats with a programme of conservation, education and socio-economic development in communities bordering the national parks. Goma is the ideal base for our work as it is between Virunga National Park, Kahuzi Biega National Park and the Walikale Forest Reserve – all of which are home to endangered gorilla populations.

We work very closely with the local authorities and the wildlife authorities. Thanks to these strong

Henry in the park

relationships, a dedicated team of local staff and the close proximity of the resource centre to the gorilla habitats, we have able to continue our gorilla conservation work through the most turbulent regions in the history of the region.

The emphasis of our work is on small quick-impact projects but also on capacity building of local partners. I will tell you more about our different projects on this blog!

Henry