Virunga Region Treaty – Conservation of Mountain gorillas

Joint Conservation of Mountain gorillas against poaching

The three countries that share the virunga region -Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo are in the final stages of working on endorsing a treaty that will ensure a thorough conversation of the Virunga area.
The virunga area lies in the southwest of Uganda, northwest of Rwanda and South east of DR Congo and protects the rare mountain gorillas, a rich list of bird species and the old stunning virunga volcanoes; Muhabura, Gahinga, Sibinyo, Visioke, Karisimbi, Mikeno, Nyiragongo & Nyamulagira the latter two being some of the active volcanoes in the world with the recent activity in 2002, 2006 & 2010.

The main purpose of the treaty is to collectively promote the conservation of migratory species such as Mountain gorillas against poaching, according to James Byamukama, a programme Officer of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Conservation (GVTC).

Jossy Muhangi, the Public Relations Manager of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), added that the three countries have been coordinating in regard to poaching, gorilla census as well as research in the Virunga area for over a decade during which the world’s population of gorillas has noticeably increased to an estimate of 880 individuals, half of them being in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.

Byamukama said that “The three countries had agreed to the agreement in which the Virunga will be managed as one landscape,” He added that interventions also focus on the livelihoods of the local communities living in the neighborhood of the parks. The national parks found in the virunga area include; Queen’s Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki National Park, Mt Rwenzori National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mt Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park found in DR Congo.

Virunga National park in DR Congo is oldest park in Africa with the most rich ecosystem which is part of the catchment area of River Nile and the Congo basin.

The Virunga Area is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Uganda, Rwanda Development Board in Rwanda and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN-RDC).
While speaking at the media training in Kampala, He emphasized that they are yet to come up with a strategy that would involve stakeholders from local communities, local Governments, partner states in creating awareness.

Delegation experts from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Regions and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries together with local experts from the ministry of tourism and antiquities, ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of justice have expressed their strategic support to the agreement. Other experts are concerned about the increasing human population and human activities like mining and discovery of oil in the virunga region.

The virunga region has a highest concentration of the rare tourist attractions/ activities. They include; gorilla tracking, chimpanzee tracking, golden monkey tracking, birding with a rich list of birds only found to the region, mountain hiking – Mt Rwenzori and the eight virunga mountains. Additional activities include game viewing, boat rides on Kazinga channel.