Community Conservation Project in the Congo

Background

In 2017 Wild Frontiers MD & our foundation chairman, Jonny Bealby, travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo with broadcaster Kate Humble to make a film about the Eastern Lowland Gorillas that roam the Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

With Wild Frontiers’ history of bringing visitors back to the more challenging parts of the world, places that have suffered years of conflict or political isolation, it was not surprising that local primatologist and conservationist, John Kahakwa, asked us as an adventure travel company to partner with him in trying to restore tourism in the region.

Taking (lights, cameras and..) action Jonny and Kate travelled to the DRC in the October to meet John and make the short film, which we hope will help rejuvenate interest for travel in the region and in turn help local communities to protect their environment.

While there Jonny and Kate also visited the Pole Pole Foundation, established by John Kahakwa to educate local people about the benefits of the forest and the wildlife that lives within it.

Meaning ‘slowly, slowly’ in Swahili, the Pole Pole Foundation has developed a number of invaluable projects to help improve the prospects of the local people and in turn help protect the Eastern Lowland Gorillas, including afforestation, environment education, anti-poaching patrols, training for former poachers and the construction of fish ponds to provide local communities with a source of protein and help prevent the illegal poaching of bush meat.

Visiting during its 25th anniversary celebrations, Jonny and Kate sat with young children in a school built by the foundation and listened as the headmaster explained the importance of the forest and the animals that live there to the local community. They took part in a tree planting ceremony, adding a few more saplings to the thousands of trees Pole Pole have planted in an effort to prevent people for destroying the forest for firewood and met a former poacher, who is now trained as a gorilla tracker. However, While visitors from around the world travel to the Congo to see the Eastern Lowland Gorillas, only a small number from the local community have ever had the opportunity to do the same.

 

What we are doing

Seeing these animals first-hand will help raise the awareness of the importance of protecting the great apes, so with that in mind the Wild Frontiers Foundation has undertaken a new project to offer local people the chance to visit the Eastern Lowland Gorillas as a part of a community education and conservation initiative in Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

With the proceeds from our major annual fundraiser ‘An Evening of Adventure’ we aim to give 200 local people the chance to visit the gorillas as a part of their conservation training.