Tag Archives: IGCP

ITFC, UWA and partners host a successful 6th Information sharing workshop

Six years down the road, the culture of information sharing by ITFC, UWA and Partners continues to thrive and positively influence management and conservation actions around Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation area (BMCA) and the surrounding protected areas.

This year’s annual ITFC-UWA information sharing workshop was held at the Conservation Education Center (CEC) in Ruhija on the 27th November 2015. Themed “Twenty-Four years of innovative Research and training in the Albertine rift (AR): ITFC, UWA and partners at the forefront of informing conservation and management of protected landscape”, the one-day workshop attracted forty-eight participants representing ten conservation organizations working in and around BMCA. The participating organizations included; the ITFC, UWA, IGCP, MUST, MVGP, GVTC, CTPH, MPI-EVA and UBODU. Several ITFC alumni, now working, for high profile conservation organizations in the country also attended. Eighteen presentations on topics ranging from ecological monitoring to wildlife health and community conservation were delivered. Each presentation was followed by question and answer sessions that got participants pondering and brain storming on better ways of conserving the Albertine region’s biodiversity.

Workshop participant group in the mist

Workshop participants in the mist

The workshop was graced by the presence of the Mbarara University of Science and Technology Vice chancellor Professor Celestino Obua who was the chief guest, and officially opened the workshop.

MUST Vice Chancellor giving his remarks during the  workshop

MUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Celestino Obua giving his workshop opening remarks 

The director ITFC, Associate Professor Robert Bitariho welcomed participants to ITFC and gave a brief history and purpose of the ITFC-UWA information sharing workshops. He informed the participants that this year’s workshop did not only mark the 6th time ITFC and UWA are hosting the ITFC-UWA information-sharing workshop, but also marked 24 years of ITFC, UWA and partners conservation oriented research efforts in the Albertine Rift region.

ITFC Director, Associate Professor Robert Bitariho welcoming participants to ITFC

ITFC Director, Associate Professor Robert Bitariho welcoming participants to ITFC

Indeed, Mr. John Justice Tibesigwa, the acting BMCA Conservation Area Manager attributed the prestigious back-to-back Certificates of Excellence awarded to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Bwindi) by the Trip Advisor in the recent years to this long-term partnership between UWA, ITFC and partners. Mr. Tibesigwa emphasized the importance of continued research partnership between UWA and ITFC, not only for biodiversity conservation, but also for livelihood improvement in the BMCA.

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The BMCA acting Conservation Area Manager, Mr. John Justice Tibesigwa welcoming participants to the workshop

The workshop concluded with the raising of a motion under the advice of Prof. Obua to make ITFC a center for academic excellence in the region on biodiversity conservation and research. The motion was seconded by 100% of the workshop participants.

Workshop participants voting for the motion make ITFC a center for academic excellence in the region on biodiversity conservation and research

Workshop participants voting for the motion to make ITFC a center for academic excellence in the region on biodiversity conservation and research

We have posted more information, presentations and photos on the ITFC-UWA information-sharingworkshop here http://itfc.muct.ac.ug

From the trails and canopies of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, we wish you a happy festive season and prosperous New Year.

Emmanuel, Badru and Julius on behalf of ITFC and Bwindi researchers :-).

Responding to Human Wildlife Conflict: The Planning progression of Nkuringo Buffer zone Management Plan (NBZMP) on board again!

The raison d’être why Gorillas are spilling over to community land are not yet known despite the rich diversity of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Bwindi). In rejoinder to human wildlife conflict between the communities of Nkuringo and the Mountain Gorillas and other fauna in Bwindi, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) together with its partners including the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), ITFC, Nkuringo Community Conservation Development Fund (NCCDF), Kisoro District Local Government (KLG) came together to generate yet another strategic management plan for the next five years (2014-2018).

ITFC’s very own Medard Twinamatsiko who is a member of the planning committee fully participated in a week closed door planning session in Kisoro. The UWA’s Senior Planning Officer –Richard Kapere and the Senior Warden Southern Sector John Justice Tibesigwa facilitated the sessions. Other members included; Stephen Asuma- Country Representative IGCP, Olivia Biira (Community Conservation Warden-UWA),Raymond Kato-Ecological Monitoring Warden- UWA, Richard Munezero (KDLG), Innocent and Auleria from NCCDF.

The seven days interface was not an easy one but greatly successful. It involved desk reviews and evaluations as well reconnaissance visits to the Nkuringo Buffer zone. The two days of field work were too enjoyable in the beginning but hectic and kawa in the afternoon epoch. It rained cats and dogs with most of the planning team members caught unaware of the somber dropdowns in the hills of Nkuringo. There was hardly any sanctuary for the planning squad and therefore had to succumb to the nature vagaries. Medard and Richard had no choice but to succumb to the heavy down pours since they had not carried water proof jackets. This was a good lesson for the next field day.

Many events were observed by the planning team. These included; the regeneration of the inner zone, the emergency of exotic plant species and poor maintenance of the Mauritius hedge fence by the local communities. Interesting to note was that tea planting has taken a serious route in the outer zone with almost ¾ of the land planted. This activity is being undertaken by National Agriculture Advisory Services through its sub contract- Kigezi Tea Company- a local company. Many local community members have tested on the syrupy dime being offered to plant tea. It was also witnessed that a road is being constructed by the local people to connect to the tea area. Such developments are highly welcomed by the local residents of Nkuringo and are optimistic of future prospects! IGCP is acknowledged for facilitating the planning process with the required logistics. Keep watch on this space!

Reconnaissance field discussions in the outer buffer zone

Reconnaissance field discussions in the outer buffer zone

 

Raining cats and dogs on the planning team in the outer cleared bufferzone

Raining cats and dogs on the planning team in the outer cleared buffer zone

A tired but  not retired team in the newly constructed road down to the buffer zone in Nteko

A tired but not retired team in the newly constructed road down to the buffer zone in Nteko

My warm regards,

Medard

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