A day with tourists from Japan: Gorilla tracking and POPOF School

Although security situation is improving on a slow pace in the area around the Kahuzi-Biega National Park (KBNP), some tourists are visiting gorillas in the park and local communities, too.

A group of Japanese tourists visited the Idjwi Ireland, the Rusizi plain near Uvira, then spent some nights in Bukavu town. They experienced cultures of different local people such as the Havu in Idjwi Ireland, the Shi around Bukavu and the Fuliro near Uvira city.

We guided them to visit the gorillas in the KBNP. After for one hour driving, we reached Tshivanga headquarters. A team of guides and trackers went to the forest early in the morning to track and know where the gorilla group of Cimanuka spent the previous night.

Brieffing listened carefully before tracking gorillas

Brieffing listened carefully before tracking gorillas

After a briefing by Juvenal Munganga, chief of the visitor center, we drove another seven kilometers in the park. Lambert Mongane, chief of guides also made a short briefing and said “Welcome, we just walk for about 30 minutes and meet the group of Cimanuka. Please don’t panic when you are with gorillas because they are so friendly. Stay calm and take photos as you like. I will ask each of you to wear mask to avoid diseases transmission from gorillas to us or from us to them”.

Time for pictures on gorillas but in the middle of bamboo forest

Time for pictures on gorillas but in the middle of bamboo forest

We met the silverback Cimanuka taking a nap in the middle of his group at around 11:00 a.m. We could see some activities of other group members such as grooming. Cimanuka groomed an adult female Mwinja while she also groomed her baby. For curiosity and fun, some youngsters were playing among themselves climbing a tree, some being clapping and others beating chests. After one hour, we left the gorillas in peace and headed back to the park station.

Japanese tourists playing with Anga pupils.

Japanese tourists playing with Anga pupils.

We took them to our kindergarten and primary Anga School in Miti town. This school falls into POPOF-I’s environmental education department and we educate the pupils and the local people about the importance of protecting our environment and of reforestation. Anga School consists of kindergarten, primary and secondary school, which we registered in 1999 near the KBNP. Pupils, with age from 3 to 12, welcomed the visitors with good songs, they played very fun games and showed how they study about the nature. One of the Japanese said at the end “It was an excellent. I’m really impressed how friendly and cheerful they are”.

On the way back to Bukavu, it was time to enjoy foods and beers along the way along the Lake Kivu. These Japanese friends of Congo spent some nights in Bukavu, and then they drove to Kigali to take a flight back home. I truly hope that they got very nice impression of the nature, the people and the culture of our country.

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