Rebecca has been working at FFI since September 2007. Though she studied conservation in her BA and MSc, she decided that the life in the jungle just wasn't for her. Having grown up in New York City, she has experienced more pigeons and squirrels than parrots and spider monkeys. So she decided to write about the impact that FFI's projects have on the ground.
Her current role as Communications Officer (Business & Biodiversity) has allowed her to focus her energy towards FFI's innovative Business & Biodiversity Programme. Rebecca helps to get the message out about FFI's strategic corporate partnerships and what they have helped to achieve for global biodiversity.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has just started a new project to conserve chimpanzees in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The Rwenzoris – the legendary “mountains of the moon” – continue to be threatened by habitat loss and hunting.
We plan to harness local cultural beliefs to support chimp conservation activities. Chimps are considered totems of the local ‘Bathangyi’ clan.
The Bathangyi clan believe that a chimp is a kins person that deserves great respect and it is the responsibility of this clan to ensure that the chimp is properly protected.
FFI and our main partner the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) are supporting the community-based Rwenzori Mountains Cultural Values Conservation Association (RweMCCA) in their efforts to engage the clan in the conservation of chimps.
RweMCCA will develop chimpanzee conservation campaign materials based on cultural values. They will also raise awareness about chimps as totems through inter-clan games, presentations on local radios and working through the highly revered Rwenzururu kingship.
FFI will also help RweMCCA to mobilize members of the Bathangyi clan to help UWA rangers monitor the Mountains’ chimps and identify critical chimp forest patches. We will work with the communities to encourage conservation of these forest fragments including those outside the National Park.
In addition, we will work together to identify local hunters and engage them in activities to reduce chimp killing, whether these are driven by subsistence needs, commercial sales or defense of crops.
Fauna & Flora International has over five years of experience with linking traditional beliefs and conservation thanks to our wider Cultural Values and Conservation project that is working across Lake Mburo and Rwenzori Mountains National Parks.
We believe this innovative and unique approach not only improves the management of protected areas but ensures that they are protected long into the future.
The communities are excited about the prospects of actively participating in the conservation of chimps. They hope that once the chimps are effectively protected, ecotourism can flourish and provide sustainable income for local people.
If you feel strongly about finding locally appropriate solutions to conservation problems, please donate today.