Hi this is Jean-Claude,
With the support of the Gorilla Organization and in collaboration with my colleagues and friends at Tshiaberimu, I’m now studying for a master’s degree at Kinshasa University. Why am I doing this? Well, as you all know, the gorillas of Tshiaberimu are under great threat. The number living here fell from 22 to 14 between 2008 and 2009 and for the whole of last year we were unable to maintain complete control of the forest due to the permanent presence of soldiers, who were poaching and even killing people.
Because of this, I have decided to investigate the viability of this small remaining group of gorillas and analyse how the habitat here can help push numbers up. Are they able to enjoy a good quality diet here, for example? Could infectious diseases affect the gorillas? Is it possible to introduce some females? With these questions in mind, I will be conducting a large amount of research, not just for my masters programme, but also for a possible PhD.
I’m very grateful to all of those who are supporting my studies in different ways. In Kinshasa, the Gorilla Organization’s liaison officer Sebu Mugangu has promised to help me with my IT and computer maintenance skills and to help organise local transportation.
Imelda, who is studying for a degree in psychology and who has been following with interest my work with gorillas and local communities has, said she will help by producing a special radio broadcast to raise awareness of the gorillas and help change local people’s attitude to them.
Also, Vital Katembo, who was the first project manager at Tshiaberimu and who is now the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) representative in the DRC, has said I can stay with him and his family in Kinshasa.
I will be sure to keep you all up to date with news of my studies. Thank you!