"The results of the census are encouraging, and proof that protecting the park's wildlife can be done in the most turbulent conditions," said WCS researcher Deo Kujirakwinja. "Poaching is still taking a toll on wildlife and the rate of recovery is being slowed as a result, but it is clear that the efforts of ICCN and its partners are finally leading to a reduction in the level of poaching."
Established in 1925, Virunga National Park remains the most species rich park in Africa. It once boasted the highest density of large mammals in the world before a wave of unrest and poaching descended upon the region. Since the 1960s, the park's populations of elephants, hippos, and buffalos have declined dramatically, with the heaviest levels of poaching occurring in 1980s and during the past 10 years since the beginning of the country's civil war in 1996. For instance, the park's once abundant elephant population--estimated at 4,300 in the 1960s--had been reduced to a few hundred individuals by 2003.
The most recent census--conducted between 9-12 June 2006 and funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service--found that efforts to protect the park's wildlife seem to be reversing this trend of decline, and that most of the park's large mammals have increased in number since the last census in 2003. Elephants have increased to 340 individuals from 265 in the past three years. The census also found approximately 3,800 buffalo (up from 2,300 in 2003). Uganda kob--a type of antelope--now number nearly 13,000, almost the same level for the species before significant poaching began in the 1960s.
Efforts to curb poaching have come with a high cost over the past few years. Over 100 park guards in Virunga Park have been killed since 1996 while trying to prevent poaching, and one was killed as recently as May 2006. Currently, park guards receive only $1 per month as a salary from the government, although this amount was recently increased up to $30 per month with funds from UNESCO from 2002-2005. Additional support for the park guards will come from the European Union through the Zoological Society of London in the near future.
Virunga National Park has been the major destination for tourists in the DRC since it was created, but recent unrest over the past decade has resulted in a decrease in tourism dollars as well as wildlife. Tourism in the region has the potential to generate significant revenues for the parks and the country. In Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, the tourism business has generated millions of dollars, not only for the parks but also for local communities throughout the region.
"Virunga Park will be the key to any tourism industry in Congo with its large mammals, gorillas, active volcanoes and biodiversity. It is clear that Congo needs to invest in the future of this park if they are to realize any of the benefits of tourism in future," said Dr Andrew Plumptre of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "It is also clear that park guards will need continued support if the park is to show an increase in the large mammal populations in future."
John Delaney | EurekAlert!
Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta
Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences