Monkeys survey

Hi This is Vhosi

Gorillas are not the only primates who live at Mount Tshiabirimu. Their monkey cousins live there too, but nobody knows very much about how many there are or where they actually live.

Starting last week a research team is involved in an expedition at Mount Tshiabirimu for a monkey survey. Researchers will be able to determine the monkeys’ abundance and their distribution in the gorillas’ habitat at Mount Tshiabirimu.

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Some people have been saying that the monkeys are greedy and eat too much food, which risks creating hunger for the other primates. We think that after a year we will know more about how many monkeys there are in the gorilla habitat, what they eat and how they are distributed there.

Thank’s for your donation

 Hi,This is Tuver

On behalf of Mount Tshiaberimu guards ,ICCN staff in this sector of Virunga national Park and Gorilla Organization Staff,i thank’s all off you for all donations we gate via wildlifedirect.

We are happy to continue our work and protecting this gorilla habitat whith your support.

Thank’s and we still need your help and more support.

Tuver Wundi

The Gorilla Organization Communications Manager

A farmer from Burusi

Hi,This is Vhosi

Tsangyamuyi is a farmer from Burusi village close to Mount

Tshiaberimu in eastern Congo DR. She has benefited for over three years from the Gorilla Organization-funded programme which shows locals how to grow their own vegetables and trains them in sustainable and pig farming.

 

As a widow and a mother of five, courageous Tsangyamuyi has benefited from the Gorilla Organization’s livestock distribution scheme. She was given a pig which gave birth to eleven healthy piglets. Villagers now recognise her as a dedicated and experienced farmer within the Burusi village.

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Not only does Tsangyamuyi have plans to buy iron roofing sheets to improve her home, but she can now pay for school education for all her five children, where as before she only could pay for two. Some of the pigs will be sold to buy seeds to grow more vegetables and she will use the remaining pigs’ manure to fertilize the crops, a farming technique she was taught as part of the programme.

 

Tsangyamuyi’s success is a clear testament to the large amount of work the Gorilla Organization has undertaken and the success they have achieved in maintaining the protection of the gorillas from human encroachment and to alleviate poverty in the local communities.

Years of turmoil have stretched things beyond their limits

Hi,this is Vhosi

The war in DR Congo may be over, but the impact will be felt for generations. Years of turmoil have stretched things beyond their limits.

I have recently been spending time in Ngitse, a village close to Mount Tshiabirimu, where there is a high rate of widows and young unmarried women who have many children.

Many of the young women were raped or sexually abused by soldiers or militiamen, then they got pregnant and had children from unknown fathers. We have found out that, around Mount Tshiabirmu, over 500 young women were raped or were sexually abused as a result of the war. As a result, more than 1500 children were born. This information is from only three out of the eleven villages surrounding Mount Tshiabirimu, so the real figure is likely to be much higher. 96% of these young women are illiterate, while 82% of their children are not going to school. According to the local health centre the rate of those that tested HIV positive is five per cent (figures are from 2006).

In our research, 95% of the sexually abused young women are in charge of their mothers who are widows. I met one widow in Ngitse village called Irena who is caring for nine children, among them five orphans.

In this small area, little squares of farmland cover the steep slopes of the hills which provide living to thousands of local farmers. 30% of local people are landless and almost 80% of them are in land conflicts. Such situations may create conflicts between local people and the gorillas’ habitat forcing people to do things that will help them to survive for the present, even though they know they are creating problems for the future.

The impact of the war in DRC is still being felt here. The important thing is to remind the world of what happened, and to never let it occur again.

Another Gorilla died at Mont Tshiaberimu

Hi, This is Kyungu

The trackers and vets at Mount T are shocked to report the sad death of a silverback named Kanindo, who died after falling into a ravine at Miamba, a three hour walk from the nearest patrol post at Kalibina. Kanindo fell and lay paralysed at the bottom of the gully for about four days, without food or water. Our trackers noted on 5 July that Kanindo and his juvenile companion Mukokya had not been seen.

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Then two days later they saw Mukokya alone. This was not usual, as young Mukokya has been accompanying Kanindo ever since his father Nzanzu died of old age in February. Before that time, Kanindo had been a solitary gorilla. Trackers found Kanindo in a gully on the afternoon of 8 July, but he was unable to move, and they were unable to move him. Vets were called, and they went directly to the place.

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The gorilla was howling in pain, and they gave painkillers and antibiotics. Three days this continued, but they were not able to save Kanindo from death, which came on 11 July at around 18:00. Kanindo, the dead gorilla, had been used to human presence thanks to efforts of the Gorilla Organization in this area since 1996 to save what is still left of this part of the park. All of the staff at Mount T are under a cloud of shock and emotions about his death.

Celebrating World Environment Day around Mt T

Hi this is Vhosi, Social Assistant at Mount Tshiabirimu for the Gorilla Organization.

During the first week of June, we observed an ‘Environment Week’, packed full of activities including tree-planting, conferences, film screenings, the airing of broadcasts, drama, and talks with students. The focus was both combating climate change, and promoting the Year of Gorilla 2009.  With the active participation of 72 children from Tuvuke and Buswagha primary schools, in addition to 42 members of SAGoT (Solidarité des Amis des Gorilles de Tshiabirimu) in the villages of Burusi and Buswagha, we planted 1,080 trees as a gesture towards combating climate change. We also distributed 20,087 trees to 80 members of SAGoT, which are to be planted around the gorillas’ habitat.

Children from Burusi

Children from Burusi

The city of Butembo is 60km from Mt T, and its inhabitants consume around 30,000kg of charcoal weekly. Here, we organised a 6km walk at which 120 children from Katsya Primary School carried tree seedlings through the main street of Butembo. Other participants on the walk were The Urban Environment Conservation Authority, members of the ANR (Appui au Reboisement National) and the ACEKAVU (Association des Consommateurs de l’Eau de Katwa et Vuthetse).  The walk ended at the Mayor’s office in Butembo. The Mayor of Butembo welcomed the walkers and congratulated the initiative. He said, “Motor vehicles dominate our economy too greatly. And they, along with the felling of trees have a tremendous impact on the environment. Caring for the natural environment, for example by planting trees, is very positive. This is especially the case when children are involved in the activities, as we need to invest in the future for the  benefit of future generations.” He then led us to the area where we were to plant 1,700 trees (donated by ACEKAVU and ANR) with the help of the UN and police urban officers. The tree-planting took us five hours.

We involved local authorities because transforming hard-set attitudes requires a concerted campaign that is backed by Government and led by NGOs. And effective community groups must act as a catalyst to others. Such education not only increases knowledge, but also improves awareness of the value of trees as an integral part of the natural environment and as an important element of our cultural heritage. This awareness can then be passed on by the students to other sections of the community. The passing on of knowledge from people who have received education to others is an important part of education campaigns. Therefore, we invited three speakers to speak at a conference, with an audience of more than 250 students from four local universities in Butembo City.

In his speech on ‘Climate change – causes, consequences and salvation’,  Professor Vyakuno of the Université Catholique du Graben said, “The forest lights up our life. We are dependent on its bounty for our health, happiness and progress. Deprived of it, we suffer. Deprived of it, we are in darkness. So let us keep the light burning by keeping our forests ever green. The forest is life itself, and our life too. Therefore, we need to plant trees wherever forests have been destroyed”. Then, he congratulated the Gorilla Organization on having led the children and others in the tree-planting effort and for organising the conference.  Dr Mundama, in his speech on the carbon process, invited students to participate in conserving the Earth’s resources. He warned that damage to the vitality and diversity of nature, along with a rapidly increasing population and  the demand for resources are intimately related to poverty and a sub-standard quality of life that affects everybody. He added that we need to be aware of these problems and to identify actions to stabilise population growth and moderate consumption.

Finally, Jean Claude Kyungu informed the students about the illegal fisheries on the west shores of Lake Edouard. He warned that this illegal fishing not only affects the biodiversity of Lake Edouard, but also the economy of local communities and so the vitality of other ecosystems such as Mt T.   We then screened an exciting film about the Great Apes to the attendees.

Two days later, I took two students from Butembo on an education campaign in Masereka Village. There, they were able to pass on  in the local language those messages that they had learnt from the conference in Butembo to more than 500 villagers. The celebration of Environment Day was bright and colourful, with traditional dances and drama being enjoyed by all.  Esdras Kisonia, one of the two students who took part in this education campaign, has dedicated two poems to nature conservation – one regarding the preservation of gorillas and the other regarding the importance of tree planting to combating climate change.

Kyondo, 9th June 2009

Vhosi Jean de Dieu.

Mt. T vehicle meets the end of the road

Hi, this is Jean Claude,

Unfortunately I have some bad news about our patrol vehicle, which is in a pretty bad state.  The truck itself was purchased in 2006 and it is used full time to cover all activities: ration transportation, administrative duties, anti-poaching patrols and helping with a range of community projects around MtT.

Although it appears to be old it really isn’t – it does, however, need to be fully repaired.Unfortunately for over three weeks now there haven’t been any vehicles available at MtT – making it difficult to work. During this insecurity period, we need really a vehicle to patrol the sector.

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Strategies for a more peaceful Tshiabirimu

Hi this is Jean-Claude, 

Attacks against the guards of the Virunga National Park have increasingly grown over the last few years and as a result we’ve decided to come up with a three-pronged approach, which we hope will help the situation.

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The strategies being implemented include: 

1)    Capacity building: To deal with the increasing violence we ideally need more men, and men who are better trained, who know how to deal with conflict when it does arise. Hopefully training the rangers can aid their safety, ensuring they are better equipped to deal with attacks. 

2)    Reducing conflicts: If we can stem the cause of the conflict among local people and create awareness about what the rangers are doing, we can hopefully create a sense of empathy. The initiative also hopes to educate the public and local leaders about the importance of the rangers’ role in protecting gorillas and gorilla habitat.

 3)    Administrative Authority: We hope to educate both the general public and local leaders (chiefs, mayors, local politicians) about issues surrounding the allocation of land. In the past local politicians have pledged to allocate areas of the national park to local people so they can grow food. When these promises have not materialised local people have become unsettled, which has occasionally resulted in violence towards the rangers protecting the park (as has been documented in previous posts). We hope to raise awareness among community leaders about the devastating effects such promises can have, as well as educating the general public to be wary of such exaggerated statements. 

A combination of the above, we hope, will result in a safer, more peaceful, park. 

Population growth puts strain on natural resources

Hi this is Vhosi, Social Assistant at Mount Tshiabirimu for the Gorilla Organization      

Currently at Mount Tshiabirimu two activities are putting a massive strain on the gorilla population: charcoal production and bamboo growing. We have more than fifteen villages where the human population rate is about 203 people/square kilometre of density, and their food comes from plants and animals which the land and waters must sustain.    

Communities in the nearest villages from Mt.T, such as Burusi, Kitolu, Kisone and Buswagha, are growing beans – they wild-raise bamboo sticks from the bush and sometimes illegally from the gorillas habitat to support the growth of these beans. Others are wild-raising bamboo sticks for sale in order to earn money for their survival. Wood is also being used for building, fuel (charcoals), and for other uses. Much is now the product of tree plantations, but immense quantities are still harvested from wild forests. There are currently two trucks in Kyondo town, which transport charcoals from Burusi, Kasisi and Buswagha villages to Butembo city three times weekly with 40 and 80 packs (80-90kg each); meaning that there is a loss of trees from these villages to produce about 30,600kg of charcoals for Butembo people every week. 

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Last week I had a talk with Mwami Kapita (the customary chief of Isale Kasongwere), in Burusi village about bamboo stick cutting and charcoal consumption. He told me that he is highly concerned because the natural resource shortages and disease are proportionately increasing with the population – unfortunately gorillas will be the main victims of this. He concluded with suggesting that we have to increase public awareness to support the community projects in a hope that we can create a better balance between the expanding population and the resources we have available, to secure the cousins of ours.  

Blue monkey is returned to the forest at Tshiaberimu

Hi this is Tuver

 

Jean Claude has informed me that the population of Kisoni village, on the outskirts of Mount Tshiaberimu, recently handed-over a blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) to ICCN rangers after she ventured out of the forest and was held captive by individuals in the village.

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The ranger Kataps, while walking in the region, noticed the monkey, which was being taunted by local boys. Soon after local villagers called ICCN to help them release the captive monkey. Rangers were very happy to witness such good relations between the park and people, enabling them to help the captured monkey in the village of Kisoni.

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On this picture Kataps and I at Mont Tshiaberimu

 

The health of the monkey was then monitored in Burusi (the entry point to the forest of Mount Tshiaberimu) and she was soon after released to join other blue monkeys, and is now starting to settle back in to the wild.

 

This act of collaboration between population and park has really pleased the authorities of the ICCN, the Director Norbert Mushenzi, expressed particular appreciation of the gesture by the community, especially following recent unfortunate events.

 

In my opinion these acts show the great ways communities have collaborated with the Gorilla Organization, in partnership with ICCN, since 1996 to help protect this part of the Virunga National Park, and offers great promise for the future.