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Fossey Fund Hosts Eight Secondary School Interns in Nkuba

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Research assistant Guillaume Kapepa (in red T-shirt, center) teaches our interns agroforestry theories and best practices before they head into the forest.

This October, the Fossey Fund invited eight secondary students to join us for a month-long internship at our Nkuba base in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The students, from the Walikale secondary school agroforestry program, had the opportunity to work on multiple Fossey Fund programs, including our biodiversity program, our gorilla and surveillance programs, and our community engagement program. They put into practice the theories they are studying at school, such as inventories by plot method and use of GPS devices, compasses, densometers (to evaluate forest canopy density), and clinometers (to measure tree sizes). They practiced transect surveys to count plants in the area, learned gorilla tracking techniques, and studied agroforestry techniques in our gorilla dung garden.

While in Nkuba, they also had the opportunity to meet with agroforestry engineers from our partners at Wildlife Works, who are on site working with our team to assess biomass inventories, measuring the number and variety of plant species in the forests of Nkuba.

“This internship is part of the Fossey Fund’s ‘build the future’ strategy,” says Urbain Ngobobo, the director of the Fossey Fund’s Congo programs. “We train young people in biodiversity conservation in order to support and enable the next generation of African scientists. Our base in Nkuba is a natural laboratory for research and a center for mentoring young researchers at the start of their careers.”

One participant, Mwanvua, said that before the internship, she questioned her choice to study agroforestry instead of medicine, law or business, but her time at Nkuba reinforced the fact that gorilla conservation and forestry are important fields of study. Now, she says, she “plans to continue studies at the university level in order to one day take over from the agroforestry engineers who preceded [her].”

The Fossey Fund plans to offer this internship to promising students in the DRC on an annual basis.