Presentations at the International Primatological Society Congress in Kyoto

This is a wonderful occasion for us.
The POPOF founder, John Kahekwa, and one of our member of honor and advisor, Augustin Basabose will give presentations at the International Primatological Society XXIII Congress Kyoto 2010 that is to be held in 12-18 Sep. 2010 at Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan.

Link to the IPS XXIII Congress

Augustin’s presentation:
Time: 15:05-15:20 on Sep. 16
Abstract (in IPS website)

John’s presentation:
Time:10:40-11:00 on Sep. 17
Abstract (in IPS website)

The IPS Congress is held in every two years and we are very much delighted with this valuable opportunity.

Tourism slowly increasing in the KBNP

The war is a tool that destroys everything. It devastates everything it founds along its way without a pity. The tourism is more fragile than any other activities. Even if a country is full of tourists who come for its national parks and many other attractions, like our country was, when it’s ravaged by a war, no tourist would try to come. Only after some time the tourism would restart at a slow pace.

Tourists stopped to visit the eastern DRC since 1993. No tourist was recorded from 1996-2003 except blue helmet soldiers working for the UN. Anglophone tourists visited the park, and after seeing the gorillas, they shared beer and dances with the villagers in the vicinity of the KBNP. Teenagers used to loudly call them “Mzungu!”, meaning “white people” in Swahili, until 1992.
From 1993 to 2003 and even nowadays the word Mzungu seems to be forgotten by present teenagers. When they see white skin visitors they would shout at them “MONUC!”, which means the UN worker or the UN mission to Congo. In the Kahuzi Biega National Park, for instance, nowadays the number of the tourists, ‘Muzungu’, is getting higher than the number of the UN people who are visiting the park. But on the street the children’s call is still dominated by “MONUC!”.

Everyday people visit these gorillas in KBNP. The POPOF’s tourism section Silverback Kingdom Trekking Agency (SKTA) receives some of the visitors and drive them to the park.
See the photo where some tourists are advised by a park ranger before entering the park to visit the Cimanuka group.

At the moment the security situation in the area is improving and the tourism has begun to grow slowly. Anyone who is interested in visiting the Kahuzi-Biega National Park and this region can contact the Silverback Kingdom Trekking Agency (SKTA) at POPOF.

On July 24, an Indian pilot was taken hostage by rebels in North Kivu Province and later released on August 3. We are very much relieved to hear the news of the release. The incident took place at a remote airstrip in a tin-mining zone in North Kivu, some 150km away from Goma, the provincial capital.

Complex Anga School needs a library

Complex Anga School
The Complex Anga school, the secondary school of POPOF near the Kahuzi Biega National Park (KBNP), is of the agro forestry section. It is located at 5 kms from Tshivanga, the first park headquarters, and 3 kms from the commercial centre of Miti. The pupils coming from six communities study in this school. The great majority of pupils come from the villages scattered around the park, which is the habitat of the eastern lowland gorillas. Several pupils are children of some KBNP rangers living in Tshivanga who walk everyday five kilometers downhill to attend the school.

Agro forestry
Agroforestry is a very nice section to train pupils as new generations to love environment. Agroforestry is a rare section in the South Kivu province and the Anga school is the third school of this kind in this country. Practically pupils together with teachers grow seedlings at a nursery and distribute those to the villages around the park.

State Exams
2010 is the second year for the Anga’s promotion to take the state exams. This year, 9 candidates take the state exam while 6 candidates did it the last year. They all obtained state diplomas. This year we are anxiously waiting for the results from the national level and see if the 9 candidates will succeed as did the six of the last year.

Reports and Books
The pupils at the 5th grade and the 4th grade are requested to do a 2-months training either at INERA (National Institute of Agronomic Studies and Research), KBNP or missionaries. And after that training they must write a report of not exceeding 20 pages. These reports should be kept in a library for the benefit of the next pupils. POPOF members and employees have also published some books titled “Eyewitness” about the conservation issue.

Building of a Library
What is needed now is to build a library for the school where we could appropriately keep these books and reports that we write and anyone in the community can read these books. It is important for us to show our fellow community members that we, local people, can write these books in the hope that it will encourage and inspire them towards a better future. We could start with a very small library of, say, 20 square meters, and if in future we could also obtain many more general books from outside, we would like to expand it so that it will be more beneficial for the whole community.

Library and Education towards the Future
And for this reason we are calling for a support from anyone who could fund the building of this library. It will be a way to help educate the communities that were formerly regarded as nature destroyers to be the new generation that understands the harmonious community conservation, which would give a chance to the eastern lowland gorillas population and it’s habitat to remain healthy even in the next century.

Widows of KBNP Rangers

Most communities in the central Africa rely on natural resources for daily survival. When some areas used by local communities are converted to totally protected areas, the same local communities are the ones that enter there illegally.

Rangers working for protected areas are also from those communities. These rangers are trained to patrol and catch poachers. Poachers are often arrested and detained for a certain period and obliged to pay fines despite their level of the poverty. In the case of the Kahuzi Biega National Park(KBNP), rangers are very active and working hard day and night for the long term protection of this natural habitat and it’s wildlife that was created four decades ago.

Few number of rangers died while on duty in the period of 1970-1996. However from the beginning of the war, particularly in the eastern of DRC in 1996, until 2010, 14 rangers are recorded to have died while on duty. They succumbed in the field to different causes as such as being shot by armed poachers, different armed factions, while others died from some accidents during the patrols in different sectors while chasing out people who are putting pressure on the natural resources.

Rangers are usually all married and have large families. When they die they would leave widows with more than five orphans behind them without shelters. Widows themselves must do their best to feed, clothe, and school these orphans which is a non-easy task to fulfill for an unemployed and unskilled mother. In the KBNP those rangers died left behind 14 widows and a number of orphans. They deserve helping hands from goodwilled people in order to help the orphans to grow up.