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News from the International Population, Health and Environment Conference 2013

Hi, This is Sam,

I recently went to Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, where the International Population, Health and Environment Conference (PHE) 2013 was being held. I attended this annual convention along with many civil society organizations, government officials, researchers and donors from across the world. We gathered to share, learn, network and identify the needs and priorities of PHE advocates and organizers.

The conference was spread over two days and offered many interesting seminars such as “Integrating PHE in rural agricultural interventions among small holder farmers”, or “Sustaining and scaling up PHE interventions in and around national parks in Uganda”. We also discussed how we can raise the profile of our PHE efforts and results as this could increase new donor interest in our projects.

Overall, it was a pretty amazing and very informative event, and it was incredible to see PHE members from all over the world working together towards the same goal of improving PHE’s global projects. My positive experience makes me look forward to next year’s conference – but don’t worry until then I will of course keep you posted with news about other projects and events that are happening down here in Africa!

PHE_group

Volcano Eruption Update

Lava flows from the erupting Nyamulagira volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo picked up speed on Monday. While this threatens some wildlife in The Virunga National Park, we must assure you readers that it will not affect the mountain gorillas.
Mt Nyamulagira
According to vulcanologists in Congo, the amount of lava flowing from the volcano as almost double what was observed on Saturday, Goma.  The lava trail has now grown to 4.6km long, and is approximately 15 metres wide.

Mt. Nyamulagira (also spelt Nyamulagira) is 3,058m (10,033ft) high and is one of the most active volcanoes in Africa. It has erupted more than 35 times since 1882, the most recent being in 2006.

Volcano erupts but gorillas ok

BBC report today

 Lava from a volcano in a sparsely populated area of the Democratic Republic of Congo is threatening rare chimpanzees, wildlife officials say.

Mount Nyamulagira, 25km (16 miles) from the eastern city of Goma, erupted at dawn on Saturday, sending lava into the surrounding Virunga National Park.

About 40 endangered chimpanzees and other animals live in the area.

But the country’s famous critically endangered mountain gorillas are said to be safe as they live further east.

Nyamulagira volcano eruption congo

Innocent, Director of the southern sector of the Virunga National Park says the chances of the lava reaching people is remote and provides further news on the Virunga blog .

Meeting Titus just days before he died

Dear Friends,

This is a letter we recieved from Rusty Stewart about meeting Titus, the silverback made famous by Dian Fossy in Gorillas in the Mist.

SEPTEMBER 21, 2009

When I was at ORTPN getting my gorilla trekking permits and it was taking a long time I had an opportunity to watch a documentary about Titus, the Silverback who died last week at the age of thirty five.  He had a very interesting and tumultuous life which included being orphaned at a young age, dodging poachers successfully for years, surviving the Rwandan Genocide by moving to the very top of  Visoke to avoid rebels bent on killing gorillas, surviving the death of Digit,  the leader of his group and one of Dian Fossey’s favorites,  living in an all male group for several years and  finally taking over the group  and leading it successfully for years fathering many new babies.  He seemed to have a philosophy of life that made him charismatic and in my view very human.

With thoughts of Titus on my mind, I set off for Ruhengeri to start my gorilla trek. The trek starts at 0700 and the excitement in the folks was palpable. Each group has 8 people and our group set out with our guide to find our gorilla group.  After a short ride over a very rough road we de-camped. It was a tough 3 hour climb, steadily uphill, through a bamboo forest.  I would be lying if I suggested it was easy.  As the oldest in my group, I had a porter who helped me and I often needed his help.  Then we stopped, left our bags, poles,etc, walked on another hundred feet and there he was… our Silverback, sitting like a Buddha..

Mountain gorilla rwanda Titus

We were all mesmerized at how close we were to him.

Titus mountain Gorilla Rwanda

Our guide was able to speak gorilla which was great so if there was movement he could tell us whether we should be afraid or not.  Other gorillas started to arrive and we enjoyed a real show.  Three young gorillas and two mature females.

Titus mountain Gorilla Rwanda

Titus mountain Gorilla Rwanda


The young were intent on entertaining us, but when they came too close to us the Silverback would give what sounded like a small cough and they would run back up to him.

Too soon, our hour of excitement was over and we hiked back down the mountain.

What a thrilling experience, and certainly worth every penny!  I’ve included some of my favorite pictures so you can see how wonderful they are to see in their natural habitat.

I am just finishing Farley Mowat’s book Virunga, The Passion of Dian Fossey (Seal Books McClelland-Bantam, Inc, Toronto)  I am in I recommend it to anyone interested in her struggle to protect the Mountain Gorilla from poacher, and the encroachment of the world.

A word about why I’m in Rwanda right now.  My husband chose to spend a month here teaching anesthesia, as part of an ongoing project sponsored jointly  by the Canadian Society of Anesthesia  and  the American Society, in the university hospital programs in Kigali and Huye.  I have accompanied him and have done some volunteering for Vision Finance International the micro finance arm of the charity World Vision. We have also been accompanied by a young anesthesia resident from the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. This  project has been going on for almost two years now and is being very well received.

Today my two adult children are here and they left in the last hour for Ruhengeri to have their own gorilla adventure.  Later all of us will leave Rwanda for Kenya and a Safari.

Titus mountain Gorilla Rwanda

Thank you Rusty for sharing this story with us. Rest in Peace knowing that you changed the world Titus. 

Paula

Gorilla social networks

We have just learned that the Uganda Wildlife Authority plans to introduce online gorilla tracking as a new initiative aimed at the global demand for conservation tourism.

Gorilla facebook

For a minimum donation of $1, subscribers will be able track the movements of individual gorillas through a custom-made Web site. Strategically placed cameras in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest will stream video footage of gorillas to audiences worldwide.

The service – scheduled to begin this month – will also allow users to “befriend a gorilla” on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

“The project aims to bring attention to the plight of gorillas,” said Lillian Nsubuga, a spokeswoman for the Uganda Wildlife Authority, “and any money raised will be put towards conservation efforts.”

For more on this story go here

Silverback Titus has died in Rwanda

Dear Friends

We are so sorry to be the bearers of bad and sad news- Titus, the star from Gorilla in the Mist has died.

 Titus Silverback gorilla rwanda

KIGALI: The world’s most famous mountain gorilla Titus, aka the Gorilla King, has died at the age of 35, the Rwandan national parks office said Tuesday.

‘He was born on August 24, 1974 and has been observed closely by researchers throughout his entire life. Tragically, he succumbed to old age on September 14,’ a statement said.

Rwanda’s oldest silverback was made famous notably by a BBC documentary broadcast in 2008 and called ‘Titus: the Gorilla King.’

YoG Ambassador Ian Redmond, who knew Titus since infancy, said: “The death of any individual who plays such an important role in his community is a sad occasion.  All who knew Titus will mourn his passing in their own way – whether gorilla or human.  For me it is like losing an old friend – he was the first gorilla I saw when beginning my work as Dian Fossey’s research assistant in 1976.   He was a playful two-year-old and I was a newly graduated biologist, so we both had a lot to learn.   But Titus’s death from natural causes at 35 is also a triumph for conservation – how wonderful that we humans have been able to leave him the space to flourish and become the most successful silverback on record, then grow old and die surrounded by his family.   The King is dead, yes, but long live the King – his son Kuryama.”

The highly-endangered mountain gorillas are found only on the slopes of the Virunga mountains on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Fewer than 700 mountain gorillas are left, according to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

Both Rwanda and Uganda have turned gorilla tracking into a major eco-tourism industry and a big foreign-currency earner.

Legendary American primatologist Dian Fossey, who until her brutal murder in 1985 lived in the Virunga, is credited with bringing the mountain gorilla’s plight to the world’s attention and most likely saving it from extinction.

Fossey’s isolated life in the mountains of Rwanda was immortalised in the 1988 Hollywood movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist.’— AFP

Drunk Gorillas and Jane Goodall

Some hilarious photographs were taken in Rwanda suggesting that gorillas getting drunk on bamboo juice in Rwanda

Gorilla in Rwanda

The photographs were takne by Andy Rouse who belives that Kwitonda got drunk and then had a massive hang over afterwards. I’m not sure if gorillas can get drunk on bamboo juice but the pictures are pretty stunning.

Jane Goodall saving gorillas

Jane Goodall has launched a mobile phone recycling program at Melbourne Zoo, with two objectives: to recycle coltan and cut demand for coltan mining, and to raise funds to pay for extra park rangers to prevent gorilla poaching.

“So far we’ve collected 6037 phones, which is enormous,” said Melbourne Zoo primate keeper Andrea Edwards, who was in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year as a volunteer at a primate orphanage.

“We’ve already sponsored a park ranger in the Maiko national park in the north-eastern part of the country to patrol the area. If we’ve already paid one ranger’s wage in a few months, and this program is going national, I can only imagine what the zoos of Australia can achieve when they get together,” she said.

“We can hire more rangers, give them better equipment and make it safer for them and better for the animals. It’s real and it’s tangible and it’s very, very exciting.”

Eastern Lowland gorilla numbers have dropped by 70 per cent in the last five years due to disease and poaching for meat, part of Africa’s bush meat trade.

Roughly $2 is raised for each phone. Zoos Victoria’s partner in the scheme, Aussie Recycling, can also refurbish and resell phones that are less than five years old.

For our friends in Australia, phones can be dropped off at Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo or Healesville Sanctuary, or a free postage label can be downloaded at zoo.org.au.

The Year of the Gorilla 2009

Dear Friends,

This Gorilla Protection Blog is a collaboration between WildilfeDirect, the Gorilla Organisation, WCS, the GTZ (German Development), GRASP, CMS, WAZA, PASA and Born Free Foundation, as well as other organizations involved in gorilla conservation. The goal uniting these various organisations is to raise as many funds as possible for a selection of important gorilla field-conservation projects.

Gorillas and the forests they live in are under pressure from all sides. Most of the threats are manmade – hunting, habitat loss, mining and war – and some are natural – such as diseases like Ebola. A combination of these threats, if left unmitigated, is a recipe for extinction and will lead to the disappearance of any viable gorilla populations from the wild within only a few decades – less than a gorilla lifetime.

Time is not on our side. This is why the UNEP Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the UNEP/UNESCO Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) have jointly declared 2009 the Year of the Gorilla. This global campaign raises awareness and educates the public about gorillas and their threatened status, while at the same time raising funds for tangible on-the-ground conservation work. The projects featured here with the kind support of Wildlife Direct have been approved by experts and are of high conservation value. By donating, you can help us ensure that our grandchildren still have the chance to see these awe-inspiring beings in the wild.

The Year of the Gorilla 2009 also supports the decision by the gorilla range states to give the gorillas better protection through a legally binding agreement concluded under CMS. What is needed now is swift and effective implementation of this promising new instrument, and the Year of the Gorilla is a first big step in this direction.

Please go to www.yog2009.org to find out more. And don’t forget to tell a friend!!

China plundering Africa resources – Jane Goodall

We at WildlifeDirect have raised concern about China’s role in the accelerating elephant killings across Africa hwic his driven by China’s insatiable demand for ivory. The Government of China claim that they have excellent controls and education programs at home, and deny that China is having the impact that so many of us fear, on elephants, trees, apes and other species in Africa.

Jane Goodall has vindicated us. This news article was just published on AFP on 10th March 2009.

Primatologist Goodall: China plundering Africa resources

WASHINGTON (AFP) — China’s thirst for natural resources including wood and minerals is leading to massive deforestation in Africa and the destruction of crucial wildlife habitat, world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall has said.

The British scientist who revolutionized research with her studies of chimpanzees beginning in 1960 warned that Beijing is pressing governments in central Africa’s Congo basin to sign over forest concessions in return for infrastructure and healthcare aid.

She said the process is helping decimate some of the largest populations of wild chimpanzees and gorillas in the world.

“These areas containing unlogged forests are very desirable to, particularly today, China, with China’s desperate effort for economic growth,” she told a Capitol Hill briefing attended by House of Representatives science and technology committee chairman Bart Gordon.

“Basically, they have almost exhausted their own supplies (of wood and minerals) so they go to Africa and offer large amounts of money or offer to build roads or make dams, in return for forest concessions or rights to minerals and oil,” Goodall, 74, said.

“I’m actually hoping (China’s growth rate) will be slowed a little bit by this economic crisis” in order to stem the deforestation, she said.

Goodall said the Chinese “have many enterprises in Congo-Brazzaville, and they’re certainly in DRC,” the Democratic Republic of Congo, two countries where deforestation and human encroachment have decimated wild primate populations despite efforts by the Jane Goodall Institute and other groups to reverse the trend.

“Their habitat is disappearing,” said Goodall, considered one of the 20th century’s leading scientists for her work with chimpanzees in what is now Gombe National Park in Tanzania.

She said it was crucial to work more closely with national and local governments in order to expand community-based conservation projects as a way to “offset offers from China.”

She also blamed the rampant bushmeat trade for helping devastate primate populations.

The trade is facilitated by foreign logging concerns building roads into once-inaccessible forested areas, and in some cases allowing hunters to ride in and out of the region on logging trucks.

Goodall’s institute is focused in part on expanding chimpanzee habitat in Gombe and working with local villages to rehabilitate denuded land and help create green corridors between Gombe and other areas with chimpanzees within the vast Congo basin.

The softspoken Goodall began her briefing in dramatic fashion, by imitating the wild call of a chimpanzee.

It could be interpreted as a cry for help — both for the primates and for the organizations working to protect them — as Goodall acknowledged that the conservation efforts could suffer a crippling blow over the next year and beyond due to the global financial crisis.

She told AFP that the downturn has made it more difficult to raise money for her work and for local governments to conduct or enforce conservation initiatives.

Cameroon creates new park for gorillas

Today we send out congratulations to Cameroon for establishing a new Gorilla Park. Deng Deng park is the size of Chicago and is hometo 600 western lowland gorillas. Lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN after populations crashed by more than 90% in recent years.

What a great way to start tGorillhe Year of the Gorilla

More information here