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DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has some of the most diverse wildlife in the world and is the only place in the world where the critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas are found.

Fossey Fund Map

About the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • About one-quarter the size of the United States, with a wide variety of terrain, including a portion of the Virunga mountains in Africa’s oldest national park (Virunga National Park).
  • Varied climate, flora and fauna, including many unique species. Includes large areas of forest and biodiversity located outside of protected national parks.
  • Home to two types of gorillas: Mountain gorillas in the Virunga area, and Grauer’s gorillas in areas further west.
  • Many ethnic groups, languages and dialects.
  • A rich supply of natural resources.
  • Several decades of security problems, conflict and instability.
  • Extreme poverty in many areas, lower population density in the eastern section.

Our Gorilla Conservation Work in Congo

  • We currently work in community forests in the Nkuba area where critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas are located.
  • In Nkuba, we monitor and protect groups of Grauer’s gorillas that live outside protected areas in remote forests that are threatened by mining, hunting and other illegal activities.
  • The Grauer’s gorillas we protect are not habituated to the presence of humans, so our trackers follow them at one day’s distance, using signs such as night nests, droppings, food remains, and footprints to document them.
Community programs in Congo

Our Community Programs in Congo

  • Providing much-needed employment by hiring community members to work in our protection, scientific and community engagement programs.

  • Working with traditional landowners to establish a governance system for the long-term protection of their forests and biodiversity.

  • Developing community farming projects and teaching necessary farming skills to help provide alternative food sources to villagers.

  • Providing education and infrastructure programs centered on education, health and livelihoods.

  • Building a new health clinic for the Nkuba community.

  • Teaching classes at local colleges and universities.

Goals

  • Work with local communities to increase the number of Grauer’s gorillas protected by developing community conservation forests.
  • Help local communities rely less on forests for food by introducing alternatives such as improved farming techniques and crop diversification.
  • Address community needs, such as education, livelihoods, and improved infrastructures.
  • Understand the roles that mining and other illegal activities play in the loss of gorillas and other biodiversity, and develop interventions to address these threats.
  • Increase the knowledge of Grauer’s gorillas which are the least studied of all gorilla species.

Challenges

  • Most Grauer’s gorillas live in remote areas outside of national parks and are not formally protected.

  • Mining and other illegal activities are common in the region where gorillas live, leading to increased hunting and deforestation.

  • Local communities often suffer from extreme poverty and malnutrition and still depend on the forest for food and other resources.

  • Numerous rebel groups operate within the forests, which makes protection extremely difficult and dangerous.