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As part of a series of events to celebrate the 25th anniversary, Volcanoes Safaris was honoured to host an informal retreat to bring together different stakeholders involved in conservation and tourism in the Albertine Rift. The aim of the retreat was to help formulate new approaches of collaboration between the diverse sectors involved in conservation and galvanise collaborative action in priority areas.
Participants were drawn from conservation and animal health organizations, the national parks authority, tourism and lodge operators, PR experts, hospitality specialists, academics, and community organisations, to consider:
The discussions included the protected areas from Murchison Falls in Northern Uganda to Kahuzi Biega in the DRC, with the focus being the core areas from Kibale to the Virungas.
We are grateful to the participants for their contribution to the various discussions, including:
Nelson Guma, Chief Warden of Uganda Wildlife Authority in Bwindi and Mgahinga; Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, of Conservation Through Public Health; James Byamukama and Peter Apell from Jane Goodall Institute Uganda; and Jean-Paul Hirwa from Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
A number of conclusions were agreed:
The participants at the retreat agreed to form The Albertine Apes Group to become an informal long-term advocacy network. The focus of the group is to take collaborative action or advocacy to deal with specific policy issues, threat to a particular species or a habitat or community issue.
The group will focus on four action points for 2023:
Thank you to Johannes Refisch and Alastair McNeilage who kindly moderated the sessions.
Thank you to all the participants, organizers and Volcanoes Safaris staff for being part of this retreat. We look forward to meeting again soon.
In January 2023 Praveen Moman hosted a panel discussion on ‘The Future of Gorillas and Chimpanzees in the Albertine Rift’ at the Royal Over-Seas League in London, with a number of conservation partners.
The speakers included Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka of Conservation Through Public Health, Peter Apell of Jane Goodall Institute, Kirsten Gilardi of Gorilla Doctors, Ian Redmond of Ape Alliance and The Gorilla Organisation, chimpanzee researcher Nicole Simmons and Volcanoes Safaris Head Guide Francis Kiwanuka.
The second annual ‘Albertine Apes’ retreat will be hosted at the Ellen Degeneres Campus in Musanze, Rwanda in November 2023.
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.