On Tuesday the 24th May 2016, the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) and its partners organized a closing ceremony of the Mountain Gorillas Census 2015/2016 of within the Virunga Massif at Muhabura hotel, in Musanze(Rwanda). The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC) and its partners have come up with data and sample collection for the survey of mountain gorillas, large mammals and illegal activities within the transboundary Virunga Massif.
This census was an intensive work which involved more than 100 men and women coming from 10 institutions to accomplish the systematic and complete coverage of the 451 km2 transfronboundary twice, from October to December 2015 and from March to May 2016.
The closing ceremony of the census operation offered the opportunity to recognize the efforts invested by partner institutions and their representatives to come up with the data collection for mountain gorillas and large mammals. During that ceremony moderated by Mr. Prosper Uwingeli, the Park Warden of Volcano National Park (Rwanda), certificates were awarded to rangers and partner institutions’ representatives who have been conducting the census within the protected areas of Rwanda, DRC & Uganda. More than 20 local authorities from the three countries attended the ceremony, including the state organizations of the police, the army, district administration, etc.
In her official remarks, Madame Belise Kariza, Chef Tourism Officer of RDB and Chairperson of the GVTC Board, acknowledged the efforts of different partners involved in the census, while reminding that mountain gorillas are endangered species and the relevance of collaboration between the three countries to protect those species. Then Madame Kariza pointed out the importance of the mountain gorilla census since no one can conserve and protect something that is not really known.
The Chef Tourism Officer congratulated the rangers from the three countries who were deployed in the parks to collect data and samples of mountain gorillas, and she reassured them that the ceremony was organized to honor them.
Mr. Fidele Ruzigandekwe, the Deputy Executive Secretariat of GVTC in charge of Programs expressed deep gratitude to all the actors and stakeholders who played different roles during the census. He mentioned that there were two ladies in the census teams, pointing out that seemed very wonderful. Mr. Ruzigandekwe noted the collective efforts made by conservation institutions, namely RDB, UWA, ICCN, IGCP, and their partners and the three countries that facilitated the census whose results are expected by all the stakeholders. While concluding his remarks, Mr. Fidele Ruzigandekwe expressed the wish to see the outcome of this census tell us more about the increasing number of mountain gorillas’ population, as showed the previous census. Data and sample analysis will continue throughout the year and final results are expected to be released in 2017.
The mountain gorilla census was conducted under the umbrella of the GVTC and supported by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP)-a coalition of the Fauna & Flora International and WWF), the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund – International, the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation, Gorilla Doctors, and the North Carolina Zoo. The census was funded through generous contributions from Fauna & Flora International, WWF, and Partners in Conservation at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.
The closing ceremony marking the completion of data and sample collection of mountain gorillas and large mammals was followed by the distribution of certificates of merit to the census team members, and ended in a diner that was enlivened by modern and traditional songs from the three countries.
GVTC Communication Service