Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Blog


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Saving Grauer's gorillas in Congo despite steep decline
Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Grauer’s gorillas (formerly known as eastern lowland gorillas) are found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and recent reports suggest their population has plummeted by almost 80% in the past two decades. With perhaps as few as 3,800 Grauer's gorillas left, most of them living outside of protected areas, intense conservation on their behalf is necessary, in order to prevent their potential extinction, after years of insecurity, hunting and other threats have decimated their habitat.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has been working in the core of Grauer's gorilla habitat since 2012, and are protecting a forest that contains an estimated 100 gorillas. We are now present in this forest 365 days a year with two tracking teams successfully protecting the area. In addition, we have just added a third tracking team and are in the process of hiring a fourth team to explore additional areas where Grauer's groups may be located, so that we can double the number of Grauer's gorillas we are protecting within the next few years.

Grauer's gorilla group

Since these gorillas are not habituated to the presence of humans, and should remain unhabituated for their own safety, Fossey Fund trackers follow them at one day’s distance, using nest sites, food remains, footprints and other methods to detect their presence, numbers, travel paths, diets and other important information.

In additionl to our daily protection in the forest, a key feature of the Fossey Fund’s work in protecting Grauer’s gorillas in Congo is the involvement of local communities, especially traditional landowners.  All of our field staff are hired from local villages, and in addition to employment, community development efforts are underway, such as small-scale sustainable farm projects to help decrease malnutrition and bushmeat hunting.

It is clear that our efforts to protect Grauer's gorillas are succeeding. There have been no reports of gorilla deaths by local community members in the area we work since our programs started. Traditional landowners are working to reduce or prevent hunting on their lands and some wildlife, such as monkeys,  that had been rarely seen are now seen on a regular basis. As we expand our programs, we look forward to working with more communities to ensure that more gorillas, and all the biodiversity that shares thei habitat, are protected.

 

Thanksgiving Coffee supports gorilla conservation
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

For more than 10 years, the Thanksgiving Coffee Company has supported the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, by raising over $58,000 for our gorilla protection work. Now, they have launched a new program, donating 25% of sales of coffee when supporters use this link: Thanksgiving Coffee.

Thanksgiving Coffee began to work with the Dukunde Kawa Coffee Cooperative in Rwanda as a way to help strengthen community development after the Rwandan genocide. Working with Rwandan farmers they helped develop sustainable alternatives to logging and poaching, which are two of the largest threats facing mountain gorillas today. Since 2004, the Fossey Fund has benefitted from a partnership with Thanksgiving Coffee, through the special Gorilla Fund Coffee, a Fair Trade certified coffee from the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative. A portion of the sales from each bag of Gorilla Fund Coffee is donated to the Fossey Fund.

By working together we are able to support Rwandan farmers as they develop sustainable alternatives to logging and poaching, raise additional funds for gorilla conservation, and support the economic development of Rwanda.

"The Fossey Fund believes that supporting the development of a sustainable economy in Rwanda is a good basis for protecting gorillas and their habitat," says Dr. Tara Stoinski, president and CEO of the Fossey Fund. Support of the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative is one way to provide this help.

This cooperative was formed in 2003, with help from the Rwandan government and the USAID-funded PEARL Project (Partnership to Enhance Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages). Since then, Thanksgiving Coffee has worked with Dukunde Kawa on a variety of social, economic and environmental projects aimed at improving the quality of the farmers’ coffee, and strengthening the Cooperative and the benefits it offers to its members. Thanksgiving gives a 20-cent per pound Fair Trade premium directly to the Coop for development of community benefit projects, with no strings attached.