In 1991, recognising that urgent measures were needed to protect mountain gorillas not just in Rwanda but throughout their range, Fauna & Flora helped establish the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) in collaboration with partners including WWF and the park authorities in Rwanda, Uganda and DRC. In 2019, Conservation International also joined the coalition.
Today, all three range states have separate but adjoining national parks. Transboundary conservation of mountain gorillas is complicated, but IGCP has met this challenge head-on, by adopting a collaborative, regional approach to the problem. This includes cross-border cooperation between rangers to coordinate gorilla population monitoring, anti-poaching activities and even joint patrols.
IGCP also works closely with communities living close to the park, supporting community-run, conservation-related enterprises and working to alleviate human-wildlife conflict.
Through our support for IGCP, Fauna & Flora is ensuring the survival of mountain gorillas and their Afromontane forest habitat. Active conservation includes support for law enforcement and harmonised policy across the three countries where mountain gorillas are found, regular monitoring and census counts, strong programmes to engage local communities in the protection of gorillas, and working with businesses including tourism initiatives to ensure that they follow best-practice guidelines and minimise risk to the priceless primates.
Decades of hard work have resulted in a steady rise in the number of mountain gorillas from a few hundred to over 1,000 today. That’s a fourfold increase since the late 1970s. In November 2018, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species changed the mountain gorilla’s official status from Critically Endangered, in light of the latest census results.
This fantastic news highlighted what concerted, collaborative conservation work can achieve. Persistent threats remain, however, and new ones continue to emerge, as Covid-19 demonstrated. Fauna & Flora has urged that mountain gorilla conservation efforts should be strengthened not reduced. We are continuing to work with local, national and international partners to secure the future for mountain gorillas.