GVTC RAISES 30.000 US DOLLARS FOR VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK SUPPORT
The Rwanda based Greater Virunga Transboundary Cooperation which brings together the three gorilla countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Congo DR, has reportedly managed to raise 30.000 US Dollars in financial support for the Virunga National Park in the Eastern Congo, located right in the middle of the latest round of fighting, which has started a few months ago following the dismal failure of the UN peace keeping forces to keep an unbiased peace for all and not a select few only.
Emergency signals were sent from the staff at the Virunga park headquarters and from NGOs working with the park to protect and preserve the gorilla populations and other game in the park, following a dismal deterioration of their supply situation and the notorious neglect often reported here from the regime in Kinshasa vis a vis the release of cash to keep operations going. The funding generously granted by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kampala / Uganda will go directly towards the upkeep of the park staff and a communication received from the GVTC offices in Rwanda also mentioned: the provision of primes, rations, and outfit/equipment, medical as well as administration and logistic expenses.
Sam Mwanda, the Executive Secretary of GVTC, is reported to have said: this fund will help PNVi staff to keep up the good work they and partners are undertaking for the conservation of this important landscape in this difficult period when their own ability to generate funds from tourism has been suspended due to the insecurity in area.
The funding was reportedly reallocated from a 1-year funding that the Norwegian Embassy in Kampala had allocated to GVTC for the review of the Transboundary Strategic Plan, development of a regional REDD+ action plan, review of the extent of illegal timber and wildlife trade in the region, support transboundary processes and undertake interventions to alleviate human wildlife conflicts so as to bring immediate relief and retain the existing structure currently in place, rather than risking a scaled withdrawal from site, leaving the gorillas to the mercy of combatants. Few tourists have since the outbreak of fresh hostilities visited the park but it was learned from reliable sources that those willing to venture across the border from either Ugandas Kisoro or via Gisenyi in Rwanda were able to strike deals with local guides, bypassing the fee collection mechanism and being able to negotiate one on one terms of as low as 300 US Dollars, with at least one source claiming that even less than that has been charged to see the gorillas, when for days no other paying visitors had made it to the park. The same source did also say that the guides in question clearly had arrangements in place with the powers presently in charge over the area, which however were visibly keener to stay away from the gorilla groups in order to provide some peace for them, unlike previous militia incursions where staff were killed and allegedly game poached. Watch this space and meanwhile visit www.greatervirunga.org for more information and background on this conservation organization.