A long and weary week

A long and weary week

It has been almost nine months of renewed insecurity in North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which includes the area where IGCP works alongside Virunga National Park for the conservation of the park’s mountain gorillas. However, this week, that insecurity – in the form of outright armed battle – came to Goma, the provincial capital and home to over a million people.

Goma is also where we have one of our field offices and is the home to five of our staff- two conservationists and three staff members that support their work. Culminating last Monday afternoon through Tuesday, a rebel group known as M23 forcibly took over control of Goma.

In short, it has been a long and weary week.

IGCP is far from alone in this difficult situation. Many conservation organizations have bases in Goma, their staff implementing conservation activities throughout North and South Kivu provinces, in one of the world’s most biologically diverse regions, but also the most threatened due to habitat loss, rampant poaching and resource extraction.

IGCP was fortunate to be able to have a meeting Thursday bringing together Goma staff with some of the Rwanda team, myself included. We met in Rwanda, just across the border from Goma. It was nice to see everyone in person and to be able to put our arms around each other. They and their families survived unharmed. The problems at the moment are lack of electricity and safe water. And, of course, not knowing what may come next. We put plans in place to keep them as safe as possible during this uncertain period.

Despite holding recent witness to the horrors of war, their resiliency is astounding. Then you realize that they have all, unfortunately, been through this before. Conflict has been a continuous thread in this region and is part of the conservation story, and that of the conservation of mountain gorillas.

But despite this, the number of mountain gorillas has been slowly, but steadily climbing over the last few decades. It is a testament to the people, like the ones who endured through this week, who get up in the morning and go to work for conservation, even under some of the world’s worst circumstances. I am honored and humbled to work with them.

On behalf of our whole team, I also want to say thank you to all of the well wishes we have received over this week. It has really been an encouragement, to say the least. It helps us realize that we are all in this together. Anna

Share this article

About the author

Latest news & posts
  • IGCP Job Advert – Conservation Scientist

    IGCP Job Advert – Conservation Scientist

    The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) is recruiting a new staff position! Download the Conservation Scientist job advert for more details. Applications should be received by 5 PM Central Africa Time on...

    Read more
    Gorilla & community protectors in DRC receive training, equipment

    Gorilla & community protectors in DRC receive training, equipment

    Don't be alarmed. The photo above is not an emergency scene, it is a training scene. From October 3rd to 5th, 40 HuGo team members from different corners around the Mikeno sector participated in a training held in...

    Read more
    Daily info gathering by rangers feeds park planning

    Daily info gathering by rangers feeds park planning

    Data crunching. It's not very glamorous, but it is vitally important to the conservation of the critically-endangered mountain gorillas. Up-to-date, relevant and timely information is an essential prerequisite which...

    Read more
    Nose prints and mountain gorilla know-how

    Nose prints and mountain gorilla know-how

    All gorillas are just as physically and genetically different as you are from your neighbor. To know these differences helps to monitor mountain gorilla population demographic changes and health status of habituated...

    Read more
  • Back to the business of mountain gorilla monitoring

    Back to the business of mountain gorilla monitoring

    Monitoring the location and health of habituated mountain gorillas is something, under ideal circumstances, that happens every day. Unfortunately, the conditions in different parts of the Virunga Massif have been far...

    Read more
    A long and weary week

    A long and weary week

    It has been almost nine months of renewed insecurity in North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which includes the area where IGCP works alongside Virunga National Park for the conservation of the...

    Read more
    Concern remains for the mountain gorillas and people of Virunga National Park, DRC

    Concern remains for the mountain gorillas and people of Virunga National Park, DRC

    The status of Virunga National Park's mountain gorillas remains unknown as rebels continue to occupy the park's gorilla sector. It has been since May that M23 rebels - also referred to as the Congolese Revolutionary...

    Read more
    Population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi determined by census

    Population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi determined by census

    A census of mountain gorillas, Gorilla beringei beringei, conducted in 2011 in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, confirms a minimum population of 400 gorillas, raising the total world population of mountain...

    Read more