Among the organizations which NINi proudly supports is a local Congolese NGO called Virunga Yetu. Virunga Yetu has recently started construction of an electrified fence in an important elephant habitat near the Ishasha River border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. This area was home to large elephant herds before civil strife and illegal hunting significantly reduced numbers on the DRC side of the river.
Elephants cross the river freely and forage in the National Parks on both sides. In Uganda lies an area of Queen Elizabeth National Park where elephants and other animals are well protected and rarely come in contact with the local population. On the DRC side, it is a different story, with numerous villages located just outside the Virunga National Park boundaries. These villagers are subsistence farmers and their fields are regularly ravaged by a resurgent elephant population which doesn’t care whether a manioc field is located inside or outside a park. A real life case study in the sort of challenges which can arise when elephants and people compete to use the same land. The solution: A 10 km. fence to keep elephants inside the park and out of the farmers’ fields. According to a local official: ‘The principal objective is the protection of the animals. But an important effect will be the protection of the farmers’ fields and livelihoods. And as an additional benefit, more than 100 young men and women will be employed by Virunga Yetu in order to install the fence.’
Here is an article in the local media describing the project. Check back for more news about the remarkable activities by Virunga National Park, ICCN and Virunga Yetu in protecting endangered species such as mountain gorillas and elephants.