About the International Gorilla Conservation Programme
The goal of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) is to ensure the conservation of mountain gorillas and their regional afromontane forest habitat in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A unique partnership
The partnership also incorporates the respective protected area authorities of the three countries in which IGCP works: the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN).
To conserve the critically endangered mountain gorillas and their habitat through partnering with key stakeholders while significantly contributing to sustainable livelihood development.
IGCP recognizes that the earth’s survival is dependent on humanity’s ability to maintain a healthy and balanced environment that includes all species of wildlife.
IGCP’s ultimate aim is to protect the afromontane forest and the many species it harbours, by ensuring that it is managed sustainably and by tackling the threats to its survival. In order to achieve this goal, it has set itself twin objectives: to reduce the threats to mountain gorillas and their forest habitat by creating widespread support for conservation among local communities, interest groups and the general public; and to improve the protection of gorillas and their habitat by encouraging the relevant authorities to adopt a consistent, collaborative approach to conservation policy and legislation throughout the region.
There is a growing recognition among conservationists that a regional, ecosystem-based approach to management is crucial to effective long-term species and habitat protection, particularly in areas of political instability. One of IGCP’s main objectives is to increase collaboration between the protected area authorities and their partners in the region. The programme provides a mechanism for the respective countries to develop a regional approach to the conservation of a shared habitat.
The best laid plans…
In a conflict zone, however, long-term strategy sometimes has to be sacrificed in favour of day-to-day survival. The dangers facing the people on the ground have been enormous, and many park guards have lost their lives. “At the height of the conflict, the best IGCP could do was support the staff on the ground in the three parks, so that they could continue to operate as safely as possible”, recalls Eugène Rutagarama, IGCP Director.
Although many other activities had been planned, the best use of IGCP resources at this time was to pay the salaries and operational costs of park staff. The government was in no position to support them, due to the political context. Ongoing IGCP support for park staff in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo has boosted morale, and enabled them to continue with vital anti-poaching and surveillance patrols. “It has been extremely hard for so many of them”, says Eugène. “Yet it is due to them that the gorillas are still there, and that the park is still intact.”