Category Archives: buffer zone

Bwindi Mountain gorillas at 400

The results for the fourth Bwindi Mountain gorilla census were announced yesterday by the Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). It is now official that Bwindi is a home to 400 gorillas, close to half of the world’s population that is estimated at 880 individuals. This result has taken a staggering twenty months of intensive gorilla search, counting and genetic analysis. Pictures generously provided by Theresa Laverty, MPI-EVA research assistant.

Rukina from the Kyagurilo research group, Bwindi-Ruhija

Conducted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the 2011 Bwindi Mountain gorilla census was an effort of a big collaboration involving many organizations that work in Mountain gorilla conservation including; l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), the Rwanda Development Board, International Gorilla Conservation Programme, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA), the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation, Conservation Through Public Health, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. WWF-Sweden funded the census with more support from Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe e.V., the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Earlier today, I had a privilege to chat with the director of the Bwindi Mountain gorilla project, Dr. Martha Robbins. Ladies and gentlemen, lets hear from the horse’s mouth (the lead scientist) for the 2011 Bwindi Mountain gorilla census. Please find the details of our Q&A chat in BM and MR below:

BM: Thanks a lot Martha for allowing talking to me after a very short notice.

MR: Sure

 

BM: May you please tell our readers what Mountain gorillas are? What makes them different from other primates, and great apes in general?

MR: The Mountain gorillas are one of the two and four gorilla species and sub-species respectively. They have many differences compared to chimpanzees and Bonobos. Their bodies are much bigger…actually they are the biggest apes.

 

BM: Bwindi is a home to 400 Mountain gorillas, close to half of the World’s population. This is the highest number of gorillas ever recorded in Bwindi. Why the big difference in numbers compared to the previous census?

MR: We count gorillas using the sweep method, where teams intensively walk through the forest in a dense network of trails searching for gorillas. Analyzing for the genetic make-up (genetic analysis) of feces allows us to differentiate if the gorilla groups encountered during the sweeps are the same or different. Genetic analysis creates a genetic identification for every gorilla that we find feces from, and this helps us not to over or under count the gorillas.

One limitation of the single sweep means that we can only count or do genetic analysis on the gorillas we find. The assumption that we find all the gorillas in a single sweep is not necessarily accurate. This time around we did two sweeps, meaning that there are some groups we found only during the 1st sweep and some groups only during the 2nd sweep. Genetic analysis was later done for both sweeps. This is the only way that we can know for sure that the groups from both sweeps are the same or different.

 

BM: What does this result mean to the conservation world, and mountain gorilla conservation in particular.

MR: This result means several things. First of all, the Mountain gorillas are the only sub-species of the great ape where we see the population actually increasing, and that provides some hope for conservation not only for the Mountain gorillas but of other endangered great apes and other primates. The increase and the hope that this population is sustainable depends only on the continuation of extremely intensive conservation efforts both inside the park and also with the neighboring communities living outside the park, Uganda as a country and in terms of international support at all levels.

 

BM: Any additional remarks for our readers?

MR: Lastly I want to say that the end result from a census is one number so it may seem easy to determine, but the censuses are only possible through a very big collaboration among many organizations, involving many individuals. Some where between 80-100 people were involved in last census.  These censuses are a way to really bring together all organizations that work in Mountain gorilla conservation, and this one has resulted in some very good news about how all the efforts of all these organizations are paying off. I thank all the organizations mentioned above for their efforts that made this census a great success.

Kanywani and Twijykye of the Kyagurilo group, Bwindi-Ruhija

Best regards,

Badru Mugerwa

ITFC receives funds for compiling a lessons learnt report on Human Wildlife Conflicts in the Greater Virunga Landscape from GVTC

The Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) is happy to announce acquisition of a grant from the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC) for compiling a report on lessons learnt on Human wildlife Conflicts (HWC) in the Greater Virunga Landscape (GVL).

HWCs occur when the needs and behavior of wildlife impact negatively on the goals of humans and vice versa, resulting into conflicts and animosity between wildlife and the local people. ITFC has previously done research on HWC mitigation measures around Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks including learning experiences elsewhere from Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori and Semuliki National Parks under the USAID funded Wildwest Project.

A mountain gorilla in a banana plantation around Bwindi

Our previous blogs written on HWC around Bwindi and other protected areas in Uganda have included; who am I conserving for?, Raiding baboons and disease risks, Who pays the price? among others. It was from this experience that ITFC was contracted by the GVTC to compile a lessons learnt report on HWC in the GVL. ITFC is a member of the research, monitoring and Landscape committee of the GVTC and is happy to undertake such an important task.

The Greater Virunga Landscape (GVL) is Africa’s most biologically rich containing a variety of wildlife including elephants, hippos, lions, birds and the only population of the mountain gorillas. The high human population settlement in this region is a recipe for clear-cut conflicts between humans and wildlife. HWCs have been one of the biggest conservation challenges in the GVL for over two decades, posing a serious threat to wildlife, human livelihood and conservation.

Several mitigation methods against HWCs are being implemented in the GVL (see photos below). It is therefore important to document and recommend such mitigation measures to protected area managers. Along these lines, ITFC continues to be at a forefront of conducting research geared towards availing information needed to address this conservation challenge. Your thoughts on managing HWCs will be appreciated. We look forward to hearing from you.

The stonewall is used against Buffaloes in Mgahinga National Park (Uganda), Virunga National Park (Congo) and Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)

Baboon traps have been used around Bwindi to control baboon raids on crop gardens

Our best regards,

Badru and Robert

An interview with Robert Bitariho

For 12 years now, I have worked as ITFC’s research officer (previously field officer), and help with research projects. I also write proposals for ITFC, and work with people and plants. Most days here in the office, I spend writing and analyzing reports/proposals from the forest, and occasionally I go into the village and interview the local people, regarding their perceptions of ITFC, and the methods in which they are using plants. However, over the past two years I have been working on my PhD.

I initially started out as a volunteer for a year when I was first interested in research. After my one year experience working for ITFC, my passion for research had greatened, which is why when I came to ITFC after my Master’s degree and noticed that the job of research officer was being advertised, I happily applied; and was lucky enough to get it!

Robert Bitariho

I take great pleasure in meeting all the different types of people that the job offers me, such as scientists, conservation managers, and even the local people; I find it very interesting to see how other national parks deal with similar challenges to our own. I however enjoy the challenges that get thrown at me by the local community, regarding conflicts with conservation. These demands need solutions, which can be hard as the locals have very high expectations, but is also intriguing at the same time. It is difficult though, as the park rules are sometimes too restrictive and finding a balance can prove a challenge; things here keep changing, and are never static.

One particular area that I feel great enthusiasm for, is the Multiple Use Programme, and I feel proud to have helped establish it, and to have been part of it for such a long time; it’s been running for 16 years. It is a programme which involves the local community having access to the forest plants, for things such as medicinal uses, basketry, etc. An agreement is written which grants the people situated around the forest, entry. The programme also helps to deal with and report illegal activities within the park, such as poaching.

I feel that my work for the institute and Multiple Use Programme is very important, because it is essential for park management.

Note : This blog is based on an interview conducted and transcribed by Alex Pinsker

Who pays the price?

On a recent trip I was forcefully reminded that some local people pay a much bigger price for conservation than most of us. Let me share an example that sticks in my mind.

We have just visited a number of Uganda’s protected areas. We (Emmanuel Akampulira and myself) were investigating how communities judge interventions aimed at reducing the damage to crops caused by animals from the parks. This, as I noted in a previous blog, is a major problem for many who live close to the protected areas and lack good opportunities to leave. The visit was part of a new WCS project we have joined, funded by USAID. We at ITFC are especially interested to identify success stories to see whether the key ingredients can be identified, and thus replicated, in Bwindi and elsewhere.

We visited farmers on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. There have been several initiatives, including impressive deep ditches and dense thorn hedges as barriers against crop raiding animals. While both have some merits (the first can be good against elephants and the second against baboons and other smaller animals), the local people are reluctant to maintain these measures even when they have been established. This attitude is not unusual. We want to know why.

A typical village on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. That’s our car.

What struck us is that farmers are often angry. They say they have already invested time and effort and do not see the benefits. They do not understand why they should not be compensated when they lose their crops to “the park’s” animals. Why should they now give their time and effort to fix a problem made by others they ask. (Under Uganda’s laws farmers who suffer crop losses due to animals are not compensated — largely because it would be impossible to manage such a scheme which would almost certainly be abused).

There is more than food at stake. In many cases children have to help their parents guard the crops day and night and are thus kept from school. And guarding is not without risks. One farmer who we interviewed insisted on showing the field where his crops had been near totally destroyed just a week earlier. ‘What will he eat now?’ he asked me. I took a picture of him with his hand full of elephant dung from his field that he shook as he spoke. He also wanted to show me a cheerful young boy with a scarred face. He carefully explained that this too was due to the park and its animals; while guarding the fields the boy had fallen asleep and been attacked by a hyena which had torn the flesh from the back of his head — though his life was saved by surgeons he had lost an eye.

Who should pay for the damage in his fields? Here is the fresh dung to show it was elephants.

Guarding the fields is frequently left to children. Some miss school, while others like this boy, risk serious injury by the animals (he lost his eye when he was attacked by a hyena after he had fallen asleep).

It is indeed a confronting experience but I am not sharing this story simply to shock. This is about achieving long-term conservation. This farmer felt that people cared about the animals but not about him or this boy. They are poor but they pay more for Uganda’s conservation than any of us. We asked what solution he favoured: he wanted the animals shot.

Such challenges are not easily fixed. But they cannot be ignored.As long as local people are alienated, effective conservation will be hard to sustain. In any democracy people need to support their government’s actions: including conservation.

We need effective measures to help local communities live next to animals. I am hoping that our research will be a significant contribution.

Village children. What can we do to reduce the chance they will grow up as enemies of conservation and the nearby national park?

Please let me know what you think!

Best wishes

Douglas

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This study is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Wildlife Conservation Society. The contents are the responsibility of the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government or the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Snares still kill in Bwindi

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is undoubtedly one of the best protected forests in Africa. With its famous Mountain Gorillas, and the hard work of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) there are no mysteries about that. Living near a ranger post, we rarely see evidence of hunting, and animals appear less wary of humans than they do in most other forests.

But the dangers are not entirely absent and may still increase if the underlying causes are not addressed. This blog is based on an interview with, and photographs from, one of our senior researchers, Robert Bitariho. I thought his story might be of interest.

Robert was camping with an ITFC field team at Mushanje near the edge of the park. The team were there to record the availability of plants that the local commuities might be able to harvest from the forest. Their research helps assess whether harvesting should be allowed, and if so, for which species and whether quotas need to be set. The Mushanje community have long been allowed to keep bee hives (made of hollowed logs) in the forest, but until now they have not been allowed to harvest plants as happens in some other areas. ITFC has always helped in developing agreements about these multiple use zones, so the work follows a fixed long-established procedure.

The team worked along transects (long linear sample locations) they had already set up last year. The undergrowth, as so often at Bwindi, was thick and hard to move through: dense woody shrubs and tangles of climbers making it necessary to cut a path.

The team records valued plants along the transect but they also keep a look out for illegal activities like tree cutting. That morning they had collected three snares (wire loops on strings tied to bent sapling stems. These stems are held down with sensitive catches that, if triggered by any animal stepping into the loop, release the bent stem which yanks the snare hard and often lifts the unfortunate beast off its feet). Three snares is more than the team normally finds in a week. These ITFC field teams are always accompanied by a ranger from UWA who collects any snares and keeps records of where they are found. Thus this is one more way in which ITFC’s work contributes to protection of the forest.

Philemon, one of the ITFC field assistants spotted a duiker (forest antelope) lying still in the undergrowth. Inspection showed it was a Yellow-backed duiker Cephalophus silvicultor . We see these occasionally but they are less common than the Black-fronted duiker Cephalophus nigfrifrons which we see often (they eat the grass outside our house).

The Yellow-backed duiker is a strong and heavy built antelope. It has a pale creamy-yellow stripe of fur along its back which is otherwise dark in colour. The lower part of the face is almost white, making the dark upper face look almost like a mask. One Yellow-backed duiker that I recently saw face-to-face while walking on the road had a crest of slightly longer erect bright yellow fur on the top of their heads — a rather ‘punky’ look. Even without the crest they are striking animals.

The snared animal was recently dead. It had probably been caught only the night before but had struggled for hours. Following a fixed protocol, records were collected and then the animal was buried. Animals that have been buried will not be eaten.

Philemon and the snared animal. It was only recently dead.

Yellow-backed duiker, Cephalophus silvicultor, in snare Bwindi.

Dead Yellow-backed duiker: they are pretty animals with a distinctive band of pale fur along their spine.

The ITFC team do encounter (and collect) empty snares fairly regularly from all the sites they work in around the park. Finding animals caught in snares remains much rarer. Robert says that this is the only one he has seen in the last two years.

Snares remain a serious hazard not only to duikers but to Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and other endangered wildlife. UWA patrols Bwindi regularly, but they tend to use the paths they know and in any case the thick undergrowth makes it impossible to survey every possible snare-site across this rugged forest. Protection is good but not perfect.

Best wishes

Douglas

There goes my potatoes

Two days ago my field of potatoes was raided. I lost about twenty sacks of potatoes, which would have helped to feed my family and some of it I would have sold to help pay school fees. I found out that a troop of baboons had raided my garden in the afternoon, just when the boy I had employed as a guard had gone for lunch.

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A healthy field of potatoes; but will it survive till harvest time?

Maybe you have not heard of crop raiding before? Many people around Bwindi and other protected areas face this problem and it has remained a challenge for the Uganda Wildlife Authority who manage the National Park. The main animals that raid crops are baboons, bushpigs, elephants, monkeys and even gorillas in some places. This loss of food and income has often caused bad feelings from communities towards the Park Managers. No easy solution has been found so far (see Douglas’ blog on the Nkuringo buffer zone).

These days local people are more positive about living next to a national park than a decade ago. Some are even involved in conservation (like myself), but it is easy to become discouraged again when our crops are destroyed by wild animals from the protected area. No compensation is offered. Because of crop raiding, fields along the boundary of Bwindi need to be guarded during day time when there is a crop. Children may not go to school for several days/weeks in order to protect the family’s fields near to harvesting time. However, during night hours no-one is guarding and remember, some animals move and feed during the night and of course they do not always stay within the park boundaries.

Planting crops that do not attract animals (tea, coffee, fast growing trees, pyrethrum etc), has been successful around some other protected areas. But people experience land shortage and poor yields, so it is hard to dedicate a field to non-food crops if you have to feed a large family. Fences are too expensive and in any case they do not keep out the baboons which simply climb over.

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Pine trees planted next to the park boundary; unattractive for wild animals. But will they cross to get to the fields?

Do you have any innovative suggestions for a solution to our crop raiding problem? That would be welcome!

Christopher

Wandering into Congo

From here in Bwindi Forest it’s easy to wander into the nearby Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mountain gorillas do it. Just recently we did too.

If your preconceptions are like mine, you’ll likely agree that a family of large globally endangered species (or indeed a foreign researcher) leaving a safe cosy National Park for an insecure war-scarred region is inviting trouble. Clearly it’s a bad idea, right?

Mountain gorillas often range outside the sharp edge of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park looking for food. They seldom go far.

Been anywhere interesting recently? One of Bwindi’s mountain gorillas

Last year one gorilla group wandered into the Congo. The group is called Rushegura and it had been habituated for tourism over a decade previously. If you’ve visited Bwindi you may have seen it (the ‘R group’).

From our base in Bwindi the vast scale of the ongoing Congo tragedy, its proximity and its invisibility has been disturbing. That is an understatement. We see the Congo from ITFC. Many days we have heard the ugly stories that have come from this visually stunning landscape that seems to be simply part of our own.

Sunset over Congo, seen across Bwindi, June 2009.

So, when the Ugandan Mountain gorillas crossed over to Congo it seemed a foregone conclusion that they would soon be hunted and killed in the violent and lawless land. They would become just one-more sad loss in a vast sea of tragedy.

Thankfully things have calmed down in recent months. On our visit to the Congo Border at Nteko, nothing even indicated an international border: same fields, same crops and even the same people. They share their local languages. They responded to the same greetings and appeared friendly. They were, I thought, a little more timid and worn looking – they did not smile easily.

The path to Congo from Nteko.

The international border was created by Belgian and British colonial governments. No-one asked the local people where it should go. The line cuts through lush farmland. Local people are able to ignore it to some degree. Apparently the farmers here cross easily from one side to the other, attending whichever local markets they wish on either side. For them at least official papers are not needed.

Anyway, we did not go far into the Congo or linger. When it was clear we were across we quickly turned back to Uganda. (We were looking to meet the Ugandan military who patrol this region.  We wished to  introduce ourselves. We wanted to ensure they knew who we were and what ITFC was. Just a courtesy and safeguard as ITFC staff and students work in or around the National Park).

On the Uganda-Congo border

We’d been surprised some weeks earlier when the mountain gorillas too had returned alive and healthy back in Uganda. You can imagine how relieved people were. Then a second surprise: after a few weeks the gorillas went back.  That’s right they went back to the Congo.

Now, from unpromising starting materials, the ingredients of a positive story are falling into place. Collaboration between the Uganda and Congo conservation authorities has been exemplary and effective. They have agreed on and implemented joint oversight to ensure the gorillas are monitored and protected. The area in Congo where the animals have chosen to roam is an approximately 900 ha protected area called Sarambwe. And, remarkably given the recent local and national context, it is being protected. So far it looks like a happy-ending … a bright new beginning as we look out into the red sunset over the Congo.

Bwindi may contain half the world’s Mountain gorillas, but it remains one of Uganda’s smallest national parks. We ecologists argue that bigger conservation areas are always preferable to smaller ones – especially for large globally endangered animals. (Smaller areas hold smaller populations and are inevitably more vulnerable to threats.) At first sight there is little we can do about this here: human populations in the surrounding landscape excludes easy expansion of suitable Mountain gorilla habitat within Uganda (we can examine such possibilities further in later blogs). But according to the gorillas some good habitat exists just across the border and the gorillas are keen and happy to use it.

Harvesting bananas, near Nteko. On the Uganda-Congo border.

The tragedies that have occurred in this region of the planet are certainly as bad as they are portrayed by the international media, possibly worse. I would not diminish the significance of that suffering in any way. But I want to highlight the small successes achieved by people working in difficult conditions. Remarkably, due to these efforts, wandering into the Congo need not turn out badly.

Best wishes

Douglas

Not everyone who sees mountain gorillas feels lucky

Last week in Nkuringo, on the South West side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, we saw firsthand why not everyone feels lucky to have this national park with mountain gorillas. Certainly it is fortunate for Uganda and Ugandan conservation – tourism and associated businesses help the country generate foreign income, while the revenues from mountain gorilla tourism support much of the wider costs of conservation in the country. It is lucky too for all of us who are glad to be able to see wild mountain gorillas. But not everyone feels the same.

Watching our feet on the red mud – it had rained the night before and the strong sun was yet to turn the path to dust once more – we descended through the steep farmland. The thick forest of the National Park on the slopes opposite was getting closer. Men greeted us from zinc roofed wattle and mud dwellings. Women nodded welcomes from beneath large piles of firewood carried on their backs. Small children peeked at us and the braver ones repeatedly tried their limited English ‘hellooo, hellooo’ as we passed.

Farmland near Nkuringo, Bwindi.

Local children at Nkuringo. People struggle to grow food and send their children to school.

As we started our walk, by the road above, the nearby fields looked well tended. Crops were varied: bright freshly planted millet, beans twining up their stakes, heart-leaved coco-yams, a few potatoes too (these we were told grew poorly). Taller were the many varieties of bananas: those cooked as a starchy vegetable (‘matoke’); those used to make a ‘local beer’, and various sweet types eaten directly as fruit. Rather than the normal large broad green blades most had finely feathered leaves – the result we were told of recent hail storms. Though we are only a degree south of the equator hail is a common problem for farmers at these altitudes.

Ragged banana plants the result of hail damage

Tropical hail stones from Bwindi. Not only do they hurt but they do serious damage to crops.

As we approached closer to the national park the fields became less tidy. Hail was no longer the main problem here. People pointed out the mess of mud, scraped soil and broken plants in fields dug up by wild pigs. We were shown the difference between banana plants destroyed by baboons and those destroyed by gorillas – baboons ate only the fruit, gorillas ate the succulent shoots.

Our local guides also pointed out some broken houses, shuttered huts and abandoned fields; many people have left, as their efforts to grow food were constantly frustrated. For subsistence farmers to abandon their fields and their livelihood … these are not small things.

This, we were told, was all due to the park and its hungry animals. Farming here had always been hard, now it was too hard. Apparently, years ago before the national park, people hunted in the forest and the animals were too afraid to come out. With the park hunting had stopped. Now the animals had become braver and braver, and there were more of them too.

Apparently people do try and scare the animals away but it is not easy and the animals sometime fight back. Pigs tend to damage fields at night and were considered dangerous due to their tendency to charge with great violence when they feel threatened. (Elephants are currently not a problem in this area of the park, though they remain a concern elsewhere).

We met with John, a resilient farmer who still lives at the park edge. He lives in a tiny mud walled two room house with his family. No running water, no chickens (the baboons would steal them) no roads without climbing back to the road we had come from (a steep climb of around 500m (about 1,500 feet). He jokingly tried to sell us his farm for 1 million Uganda shillings (about 500 US dollars) as he showed us around. He wanted to buy land elsewhere and move away but he said no-one wanted to buy his land. Knowing that fuel wood was a problem in the region too, we asked if he’d like to grow trees. He replied he’d be happy to grow trees if he still had food for his family, but what would they eat while the trees were growing?

John had been involved in various projects seeking to reduce the conflicts between the farmers and the park’s animals. ITFC, our institute, has been involved in the past too because addressing these ‘problem animals’ has long been a major challenge for conservation and a cause of local conflict. Unfortunately, off-the-shelf solutions remain unsatisfactory – what works in one place fails in another and circumstances change. Currently ITFC is no longer involved in this work as we have insufficient funds – but we were interested to evaluate what we could and should do if this changed.

One project that John showed us had attempted to grow a dense prickly hedge of ‘Mauritius thorn’ as a barrier to problem animals. Now, four years on, the spiky trees grow thick and spiny in some places, catching on our clothes bags and flesh in a convincingly aggressive manner when we passed too close. But, in many places they had failed entirely, or grown so little that they were easily stepped over. In any case, John explained, there were rocky places without soil, and also rivers, where a hedge would not work. His fields remained as open to hungry animals as if he’d set up a sign saying “welcome”.

The thorn hedge. It has not grown well enough to keep animals out of John’s field (John is on the left).

John was also involved in projects to grow special crops along the park boundary – a 150 m wide area known as the ‘buffer-zone’. Such crops should be worthwhile for the farmers but not for their wild animal neighbours.

But what to grow? Tea is a one possibility, and is grown successfully in other areas, but there is currently no buyer on this side of the park and poor access to the nearest tea-processing factories makes it impractical. People had previously tried growing the medicinal Artemisia (used in anti-malaria drugs) but the planned buyer had disappeared before the crop was harvested leaving farmers with a crop they could not sell.

John (right) and his ‘buffer zone’ lemon grass. Will it help him?

A recent project has the farmers planting lemon grass. We saw it. It looked healthy and smelt wonderful. So far none has been sold (it will be harvested at the end of the year). John who had been cheerful throughout his tour asked what we thought. He showed his concern … would he, he asked us, be lucky this time, would he make some money? All we could answer for certain is that we sincerely hope he will.

What is the lesson for those of us who want to help? We need solutions for John. More systematic approaches are needed – we should not invest in one solution at a time and gamble on success rather than failure. This is where research can help. We need to learn what works and what doesn’t and provide much needed help to John and many others.

Conservation requires local support. Local people’s costs and suffering are concerns in themselves as well as challenges for long-term acceptance of the park, its animals and restrictions. We need options which allow people to live next to the mountain gorillas and to feel lucky, not unlucky, to be there.

Thanks to everyone for the warm response. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Douglas