IGCP Announces Birth of Twin Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Heartland | African Wildlife Foundation
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IGCP Announces Birth of Twin Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Heartland

  • Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ruvumu gave birth to the second set of twins in Rwanda's Susa Group living in Volcanoes National Park in May, 2011. [Photo Credit: Abel Musana/Rwanda Development Board]

A pair of healthy mountain gorilla twins has been born in AWF's Virunga Heartland

VIRUNGA HEARTLAND, Uganda, June 14, 2011 -- This blog post by IGCP's Anna Behm Masozera details the experience:

"The news came out of the blue, in the form of an SMS, mid-way up the Batwa Trail head in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda -- twin mountain gorillas were born 'next door' in Rwanda's Susa Group in Volcanoes National Park! This in itself is extraordinary, but that the text prompted a spontaneous collective singing of 'Happy Birthday' by a multinational contingency from DR Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda was just out of this world.

The world's remaining mountain gorillas, numbering around 780, exist in parks that span international borders between DR Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. That each country can come together and truly celebrate the birth of mountain gorillas in a neighboring country is really symbolic. You see, the response could very easily be groans from the other countries that also try to promote and market their own mountain gorilla tourism. But I witnessed none of that- just authentic rejoicing.

At the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, we look at everything in a regional context, even if the project that we are working on seems to be small in scope. The reality is that what happens in one country, both within and outside of the parks, affects the others.

The reason that this multinational contingency was hiking together last Friday when the news came in, was to tour projects that were implemented under the umbrella of theGreater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration or GVTC.

The Batwa Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is one such project. Although the Trail is in cooperation with the Batwa (a pygmy people) living around MGNP, there are other Batwa settlements throughout the region and next to almost all protected areas in the Greater Virunga region.

This unique arrangement- where a cultural attraction is actually in the park- will be officially launched on June 7th. Coinciding with the launch will be the screening of a documentary on Batwa culture as well as The Batwa Trail that will be used to highlight the unique, rich, and fragile culture of the Batwa people as well as elevate their social status.

Other sites that we visited included alternative energy projects, a bamboo nursery and bamboo handicraft cooperative, a communal household rainwater collection tank construction project, and agricultural and beekeeping support projects.. Like the good news that came in via SMS, there is collective ownership of what happens throughout the Greater Virunga landscape."

At the end of 2010, IGCP helped organize a census in the Virunga Volcano Region, a transnational ecosystem that includes Volcanoes National Park where Ruvumu gave birth to her twins. The findings of that census, coupled with preexisting census data from Uganda, showed that the population of mountain gorillas has grown by over 26 percent in the last seven years. This dramatic increase is testimony to the ongoing success of the conservation efforts of IGCP and its partners. Said AWF CEO, Patrick Bergin, of the results, "--let me just say gorilla lovers should be thrilled by the news."

The national park where Ruvumu and her twins live is part of AWF's Virunga Heartland where AWF has been working for years to protect mountain gorillas. Since its inception in 1961, AWF has implemented projects in several critical wildlife zones across Sub-Saharan Africa to protect wildlife and their natural habitats. In these regions or "Heartlands" AWF works with local people to put in place conservation projects that provide meaningful benefits to both humans and wildlife. In that spirit, AWF celebrates the birth of these gorilla twins and applauds the hard work ofIGCP- work that will ensure the presence of a healthy mountain gorilla population in central Africa for many years to come!

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Primary:
Kathleen Garrigan
kgarrigan@awf.org
202-939-3326
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Mayu Mishina
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202-939-3324
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