The International Gorilla Conservation Programme

© Shem Compion
One of the groups at the forefront of gorilla conservation is the International Gorilla Conservation Programme.The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) has many goals, but the main goal is to ensure the survival of Mountain gorillas and their afromontane forest ecosystem in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.The IGCP was formed in 1991 and is comprised of three partners, namely the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) Flora and Fauna International (FFI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). These groups also work in conjunction with the relevant authorities across the three countries on the ground and local communities and stakeholders.They recognize that for effective conservation and the Earth's survival we need to maintain a balanced environment for all species. They hope to achieve this goal by partnering with key stakeholders and contributing to sustainable livelihood development for local communities.To help protect the afromontane forest and its inhabitants the IGCP helps ensure that the forest is managed sustainably and tackling threats to its continued survival.They aim to do this through twin objectives: to reduce threats to mountain gorillas such as poaching and protecting their forest habitat by creating support for conservation among local communities, interest groups and the public. Their second objective is to improve the protection for Gorillas by encouraging the relevant authorities to adopt effective conservation policies and legislation throughout the region.Throughout the regions many years of conflict and genocide the group has struggled to adhere to their long term strategy and focused on day to day survival. Many of the park guides lost their lives and at the height of the conflict all the IGCP could do was support the staff on the ground of the three parks.The IGCP used its resources to pay the salaries and operational costs of the park staff when the government was unable to, allowing them to continue with vital anti-poaching and surveillance patrols and it is through this that the Gorillas have survived.The IGCP is also heavily involved in the socio-economic development of the region as it is inextricably linked with conservation efforts. Through improving livelihoods and encouraging the sustainable use of resources and tackling other issues through a number of community initiatives the programme hopes to encourage conservation. In conjunction with this the IGCP also influences local legislation.Since the programme began there has been a 10% increase in the Gorilla population which demonstrates the effectiveness of this holistic approach to conservation. The centre also promotes sustainable tourism through tours to see the Mountain Gorillas to aid local communities.Read more on the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

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