On the 21st October 2016, GVTC organized a special consultation at Rubavu aiming at reinforcing the collaboration between Virunga National Park (VNP) and Volcanoes National Park (VNP). This meeting was chaired by Dr Muamba Tshibasu Georges, the GVTC Executive Secretary and attended by Mr. Juvenal Mukeshimana, the GVTC Executive Secretary Assistant; Mr. Fidele Ruzigandekwe, the GVTC Deputy Executive Secretary in charge of Programs; Mr. Prosper Uwingeli, the VNP Chief Warden; Mr. Innocent Mburanumwe, in charge of the Mikeno Sector of VNP; Mr. Benjamin Mugabukomeye and Mr. Altor Musema both from International Gorilla Conservation Programme( IGCP).
In his introductory remarks, Dr Muamba Tshibasu Georges thanked participants for their presence and took that opportunity to explain the rationale of the consultation: “as leaders of GVTC Treaty implementation, through which the States Parties commit to protect and preserve the Transboundary natural resources, we have the mandate to ensure the best environment conditions for biodiversity conservation with a respect of the States sovereignty as it is stated in the Treaty”. According to the GVTC Executive Secretary, this implies taking care of migratory species and conserving the transboundary wildlife.
Participants agreed to conduct coordinated patrols that have previously reinforced the spirit of the transboundary collaboration between the two Protected Areas Authorities (PAAs). Indeed, other transboundary activities were conducted like mountain gorilla census which was achieved due to the collaboration of various institutions in the region and this joint activity may help sustaining coordinated patrols to facilitate the monitoring of gorillas and other migratory species to know better know much about their protection, food, health, reproduction, and security.
During this special consultation, it was raised that there are critical areas which cannot be reached while conducting routine patrol activities due to the security challenges and that is the reason why coordinated patrols are highly needed. It has been observed that a mountain gorilla group named Kuryama that is a group research and another group of Karisimbi descending from Isusa group which is for tourism are navigating between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), using more often the DRC side. This case should stimulate a collaborative action to handle other conservation issues in terms of poaching, and other illegal activities.
The key-roles which may be played by the armies were outlined and participants mentioned that the armed forces of the both countries should be involved to assist people conducting patrols in critical areas. The need of communication and information sharing has been discussed and suggested to enhance transboundary collaboration. As far as the communication is concerned, participants highlighted that it would be in the advantage of Protected Areas Authorities to collaborate with armed forces especially while conducting conservation activities along the borders. So, it would be paramount to communicate with soldiers since they sometimes conduct joint activities and they are there to protect their countries. The collaboration with soldiers is important as park wardens may also provide soldiers with strategic information regarding the security and therefore armed groups (rebels) cannot cross the borders since they are aware of the presence of loyalist armies and this may be helpful to tackle illegal activities, fraud, and poaching. This collaboration with the armies has to be extended to Customs and Migration services and GVTC will assist with a budget to support such an initiative, bearing in mind that IGCP has been supporting a similar initiative which was fruitful in the past.
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