New Director named for gorilla conservation collaboration
For more than 20 years, the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) has been at the forefront of mountain gorilla conservation, championing innovative and collaborative conservation efforts both within and around mountain gorilla parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. This month the coalition members of the IGCP, Fauna & Flora International, WWF and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) announce that Anna Behm Masozera will serve as the Programme’s new Director.
Behm Masozera takes on the position having served for several years as the Programme’s Communications Officer. In addition to training and experience in the field of public communication, she has a Master of Science degree from the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida in the United States.
“The partnerships that form the International Gorilla Conservation Programme are what make it so unique and so effective,” Behm Masozera explained; “partnerships between conservation organisations, between trans-boundary gorilla parks in three countries, and between the parks and the communities that surround them.”
“It is an honour to take up this important post as shepherd of these collaborations, and to work alongside such an impressive and accomplished group of field conservationists.”
While continuing to support the Trans-boundary Secretariat, Behm Masozera will also be taking the Programme in a new strategic direction, building on lessons learned from the previous decades and adapting to the changing context of conservation in the region.
On the rise but still under threat
The number of mountain gorillas has been on the rise during the last decade, with the total world population currently standing at an estimated 880 individuals. The mountain gorilla population in Bwindi National Park, Uganda has risen by 33% since 1997 and in Virunga National Park, Rwanda it has risen by 48% since 1989.
The species remains critically endangered, however, due to continued pressure on its limited habitat and as a result of the direct threat caused by poachers’ snares and exposure to human disease.
The Programme will therefore strengthen its base in conservation science and facilitate the use of this grounded knowledge in decision making, both at park and policy levels. Furthermore, the Programme will focus on interventions related to habitat management and working with public and private partners to ensure that mountain gorilla tourism is conducted with minimum risks to the gorillas and maximum benefits to conservation.
“Through the collaborative efforts of IGCP and its partner governments, the mountain gorilla population has grown significantly in the last 20 years. Under Anna’s leadership we trust that this forward momentum will grow in order to ensure the future survival of the mountain gorilla.” Mark Rose, Chief Executive, Fauna & Flora International