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Fossey Fund staff attends the International Congress for Conservation Biology

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Scientists gathered to discuss urgent global issues in conservation

Last week, the 30th biannual International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) took place virtually, and the Fossey Fund was excited to have numerous speakers and participants in attendance.

With 1,500 conservation professionals and students participating, ICCB is the largest global forum for addressing conservation challenges and presenting new research in conservation science and practice.

The Fossey Fund was extremely proud to have more than 31 of our scientific staff in attendance from our teams in Rwanda and DR Congo. They led symposia, gave presentations and were part of the organizing committee for the entire conference.

Jean Claude collecting data during large mammal survey
Jean Claude Twahirwa, an ICCB attendee, at work in the field.

The first of two symposia we organized was led by Deogratias Tuyisingize, our biodiversity research program manager, and was titled “Overcoming Challenges of Wildlife Conservation in Rwanda.” It focused on the breadth of biodiversity research currently being conducted by young Rwandan scientists. Presenters covered topics ranging from mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys and hoofed mammals to agroforestry and how trees are affected by climate change in Rwanda. As part of an effort to encourage wildlife research and conservation led by Rwandans, the speakers proposed organizing a mini conference in Rwanda every three years to inform policy and decision makers while generating strong future leaders in wildlife conservation.

Maurice presenting during conference
The Fossey Fund’s Conservation Education Coordinator Maurice Ngiramahoro giving a virtual poster presentation at the ICCB.

A second symposium, “Hidden Treasures of the Eastern Congo Basin,” focused on the challenges we face in our effort to understand and protect the biodiversity of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fossey Fund presenters included our Congo programs director, Urbain Ngobobo; our researchers in DRC, Drs. Frederik Van de Perre and Constance Fastre; and Dr. Yntze van der Hoek. Although the participants work across a wide range of species and research topics, all found common ground in their assessment that eastern DR Congo is a unique area for which investment in collaborations with local communities and future generations of conservation leaders are key to effective conservation in the region.

In total, our teams presented 16 scientific studies, work that was done with 15 collaborators from 11 national and international institutions.

One of the attendees, Karisoke research assistant Jean Claude Twahirwa, said this was “my first opportunity to attend an international conservation conference, and I was able to share with the world our preliminary findings on our large mammal research and to gather ideas from other experts that will help us in writing this paper. I met with other scientists who work on large mammals, and I learned about the advanced methods they are using, like examining DNA to understand the demography and distribution of large mammals. More importantly, I gained skills in presentation and communication.”

Fossey Fund staff presenting at conference.
Fossey Fund staff members discussing challenges facing conservationists in the DRC.

“I was so proud of the work our teams presented at this important conference,” said Felix Ndagijimana, the Fossey Fund’s director of Rwanda programs and a member of the ICCB steering committee. “It was wonderful to see this new generation of Rwandan and Congolese scientists join the rest of the world to work toward solving the problems that face our entire planet. I hope to see even more participation by Fossey Fund scientists and affiliated students during the next conference, scheduled to take place in Kigali in 2023.”