Wildlife conservation drive boosted

Dutch government and Buffet Foundation have boosted the conservation campaign in the Great Lake region

Dutch government and Buffet Foundation have boosted the conservation campaign in the Great Lake region.

The two institutions released $13.1m (Frw14b) for conservation of wildlife, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

Buffet Foundation contributed $9m (Frw4.9b) while the Dutch Embassy provided $4.1m around (Frw2.2b).

The funds will help in the trans-boundary protected areas conservation programme.

"We have a 30-year vision and a 10-year strategic plan of the 3 areas to create enabling environment," Rosette Chantal Rugamba said.

She is the president of the core secretariat coordinating the three countries. This money is part of $92m (Frw39.5b) needed for conserving the eco-system within the central Albertine Rift trans-boundary protected area.

The protected area net work covers Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Queen Elizabeth National Park. It also stretches to Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Semuliki and Kabale National Parks in Uganda.

The Virunga Pational Parks in DRC and Volcano National Parks in Rwanda are also part of this area.

Anekto Rutagarama, the incharge trans-boundary collaboration in Rwanda says that the initial funding is for the education programmes.

The Albertine rift is endowed with vertebrates and the some of the world’s species facing extinction.

The region boasts of 27 primate species and 40 species of ungulates. More than 50 per cent of birds, 39 per cent mammals, 19 per cent of Amphibians and 14 per cent of reptiles and plants of mainland Africa are found within this region.

"We need to streamline what we are doing because all our vision is to make sure that our landscape is sustainable especially if we are talking about bi-diversification, economic empowerment, educating and all those aspects that can make sure that the whole ecosystem of the Virunga Massive is conserved," Rugamba said. However this initiative is still facing problems, Rugamba noted

She cited some impediments as pressure on land, poaching, instability in the area and ignorance of communities near these parks.

"There is also lack of awareness, meaning local leaders do not understand the benefits of protecting nature and political instability within that area. This calls for harmonisation of the strategic plans and funding of joint patrols," Rugamba said.

Trans-boundary protected area management across the three countries stated fifteen years ago, as informal collaboration amongst protected areas. Formal recognition of biodiversity conservation only happened recently with the conceptualisation of the ecosystem approach to protected area management in the region.