Virunga massif is a home for the endangered species of Mountain Gorilla. The Virunga is shared by the three countries, Rwanda, DRC and Uganda. While these countries have physical and political boundaries, gorillas have enjoyed moving freely in the region without any barrier. Nyakagezi group recently moved from Mgahinga /Uganda to PNV in Rwanda in July 201.
Representatives from Uganda Wildlife Authority met their Rwandan counterparts from RDB on 20th December 2011 to discuss the implementation of the signed MoU on Nyakagezi case through the greater Virunga transboundary collaboration framework. Uganda representation confirmed that they have no objection to permitting RDB to book the Nyakagezi gorilla family for tourism looking on the 8-year migrated Kwitonda group experience. Rwanda Development Board representation agreed on sharing revenue from Nyakagezi group.
Uganda wildlife authority communicated officially specifically authorizing RDB to book the gorilla family for tracking on their behalf and RDB will officially inform UWA on the launching date of visits in Nyakagezi family, and will keep records of all tourism visits to the family.
While animal transboundary migration is uncontrollable the case of Virunga massif is eased by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration GVTC by bringing together concerned parties to sort it out. Countries several times agreed that tourists can track the migrated species and in return a revenue sharing remittance. This has been done on Kwitonda group and in few days will be done on Nyakagezi group.
Across the three countries, Such movements have drawn interest of the different countries especially when it becomes of Gorilla habituated to tourism. These kind of groups are known as transfrontier groups and are under the management of the trilateral memorandum of understanding signed between Uganda Wildlife authority (UWA), RDB by the time ORTPN and ICCN in 2006 on “the collaborative monitoring of and Sharing revenues from Transfrontier tourism Gorilla Groups”. Such cases have been happening: Kwitonda group moved 8years ago to PNV In Rwanda from PNVi in DRC and has been benefiting of the implementation of the MoU by sharing the tourism revenue by 50% between Rwanda and DRC as indicated in the MoU.
RECALL FROM TRILATERAL MEMORANDUM
Signed in 2006 by heads of conservation agencies from the three countries, to manage trans-boundary gorilla families, the agreement calls for good faith among the parties in managing gorillas from partner states as follow:
Member countries will protect each other’s gorilla families when they move across the international borders, permitting the country of origin to monitor the gorillas at least once a month.
Continued use of the gorilla families for tourism, with the host country taking 50% of revenue generated from gorilla tourism from the family, during the period the gorilla family is resident in another country.
The agreement also recommends procedures for booking and tracking the families that have temporarily re-located. Only registered tour operators from the partner countries will be allowed to purchase the permits, by paying 50% of the permit value at time of booking to the country of origin, and the remaining 50% to the host country.
The booking will be valid for 48 hours on weekdays and 72 on week ends
The host country will announce availability and provide trackers and guides for tracking.
“Gorillas have enjoyed moving freely in the region without any barrier…”