BY INNOCENT GAHIGANA
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has declared its intention to come to the rescue of mountain gorillas and their Virunga Mist habitats.
This follows the July killings of four mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park on the side of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The endangered species are among Africa’s best tourist attractions shared by Rwanda, DRC and Uganda.
The team of environmental technical experts will soon arrive in that part of DRC to assist authorities there on how to stabilise the situation, UNEP said in a statement.
The mission is expected to take into account issues of capacity building, the development of a framework on environmental law, and legislation to strengthen the forestry code.
The Rwandan Minister for Lands and Environment, Christrophe Bazivamo, described the move as a great step for DRC to protect mountain gorillas and their habitats from human threats.
“We (Rwanda) are fully willing to provide technical and advisory support where necessary to our DRC friends. Protection of wildlife has no boundaries,” he said.
Achim Steiner, the UNEP Executive Director was quoted in the statement as saying: “I am very pleased that other partners of UNEP with whom we collaborate in the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) are conscious of the necessity to provide assistance.”
He said that the continuing problems in the Virunga National Park reveal the need for a sustainable solution to its management.
“The instability surrounding the Virunga is an illustration of the unfolding human and environmental tragedy. Any lasting approach must involve the local communities around and the protection of their livelihoods,” Steiner added.
The intervention of UNEP to rescue the gorillas and their habitats is a result of last week’s meeting between DRC and UNEP officials in Nairobi, Kenya.
In that meeting, the Congolese minister of Environment, Didace P. Bokiaga, appealed to UNEP for support to develop a post-conflict environmental assessment programme.