The Abraham Foundation seeks to preserve and protect our natural world and all the domestic and wild animals who inhabit it. The Abraham Foundation originates, develops, and finances projects in collaboration with its partners on the ground. Learn more
Africa Conservation Fund
Africa Conservation Fund is an EU-funded organisation working in Virunga National Park to support the Congolese Wildlife Authority in preserving the park and the Mountain Gorillas. Learn more
ACF is a UK-registered charity that was created in 2005 to help protect Virunga National Park. Since then ACF has worked in close partnership with the Congolese Wildlife Authority to raise global awareness about Virunga and to solicit and secure funds to pay for improvements to the park’s wildlife protection systems and infrastructure. Today, because of that partnership, Virunga National Park as an institution is more efficient, credible and visible than at any other time in its history. ACF has proved its founding premise that a sovereign authority charged with the protection of an African national park can achieve truly incredible results when working with a small team of committed professionals deployed by a conservation organization.
ACF helps the Congolese Wildlife Authority manage Virunga’s money, from the large sums given by the European Union – Virunga’s most important contributor – to the generous donations from individual people. In order to get the best possible outcome for Virunga, that money needs to be spent with ruthless efficiency. For ACF that efficiency begins at home. By maintaining a single office and employing very few staff, the charity keeps its own operating costs very low, and what costs there are, are covered by a grant from the European Union. So very nearly a hundred percent of each donation made through gorillacd.org – all but a small bank fee – is spent wisely in the field.
The park needs not only to spend money efficiently but also to be seen to do so. It’s no secret that sub-Saharan Africa has a problem with corruption. It has blighted the public and private lives of the Congolese population and wrecked the relationship between their long suffering country and the outside world. Put plainly people are afraid to give money to Congolese institutions and they need to be sure that Virunga is being run properly in order to keep supporting it. ACF is audited at least three times per year and has helped Virunga National Park prepare for and pass rigorous audits so that donors can be confident that, when they give to Virunga, their money is going where it should. Most importantly we are all accountable to you, the online conservation community: you can see exactly how donations are being spent by visiting the website.
ACF has conducted an aggressive media campaign to raise Virunga’s profile. If the park as a project is to be financially viable in the information age, then it then it has to have a clearly branded presence in both digital and print media; it has to be able to compete for attention from people who have been saturated with demand for it.
ACF designed and built gorillacd.org so as to establish direct contact between the park and the people who want to protect it. Now anyone in the world, by interacting with Virunga’s bloggers, can appreciate the efforts and achievements of these African conservationists and the scale of the challenges they face. Most importantly gorillacd.org is a conduit for donations. When people give to Virunga through the website they know exactly what they are funding; they are certain that their money is disbursed on the ground within days; and they can see the impact that their donation has had.
It is no accident that the world’s gaze has fallen directly on Virunga many times in the past few years. Brent Stirton’s photograph of the aftermath of Senkwekwe’s death was, by anyone’s reckoning, one of the defining images of 2007. The Newsweek cover story of which that picture formed a part and the National Geographic cover story published the following year were two important, comprehensive and balanced pieces of conservation journalism among many hundreds of others written about Virunga by journalists who were informed about events in and around the park by ACF staff.
The Congolese Wildlife Authority has achieved a great deal by working with ACF in Virunga. They have rebuilt and extended primary schools in the villages of Jomba, Bikenge, Bukima, Gatovu and Rumangabo. They have refurbished and repaired the park headquarters at Rumangabo and the facilities at Mutsora, and built the Senkwekwe Centre. The Park Rangers are now trained, fed, paid and equipped – with new uniforms and vehicles – better than ever before. The Briquette Program, which is designed to stop or slow the deforestation of the park by reducing the demand for charcoal, is having a profound effect on ordinary people’s attitudes towards the use of natural resources as subsistence fuel, and it may well save the forests and the Mountain Gorillas of the Mikeno Sector.
Much of this has been paid for by funds solicited and raised by ACF, but none of it would have been possible without either the people who gave money or those who did the work. The achievements are theirs. So our thanks go to the European Union, the Murry Foundation, Gearing Up 4 Gorillas, the Howard G Buffett Foundation, the United Nations Foundation,the United Nations Economic Social and Cultural Organization, the Prince Bernhard Foundation, the Thin Green Line Foundation, the Governments of Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands, to you, the individual people from all over the planet who support the park, and, of course, to Virunga’s Rangers and Staff.
Congolese Wildlife Authority, ICCN
The Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN) manages all national parks and protected areas in DR Congo, including Virunga National Park. Learn more
The Congolese Wildlife Authority (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, ICCN) was conceived to protect Virunga National Park, which was created in 1925 and known as Albert Park. ICCN’s scope has subsequently expanded to include all of DR Congo’s protected areas and its duties now include:
- Management and conservation of DRC’s biodiversity in protected areas
- Promotion of scientific research
- Development of eco-tourism within the framework of conservation
- Development of populations living around protected areas
ICCN is currently led by Director Cosma Wilungula Balongelwa. Emmanuel de Merode is Chief Warden of Virunga National Park.
ICCN continued to protect the park during the Congo’s civil war years of 1996 to 2003, despite a total lack of support. This is arguably the most extraordinary aspect of the history of Virunga National Park, and is a testament to the effort and sacrifice of the wardens and rangers of the park.
ICCN is grateful for the support of the organizations listed on this website, with a special mention to the European Union , the main institutional donor to Virunga.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
DFGFI is dedicated to the conservation and protection of gorillas and their habitat in Africa. Learn more
In addition to helping the Democratic Republic of Congo’s park and wildlife authority (ICCN) protect mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, we have helped local communities establish nature reserves that protect Grauer’s gorillas; established a facility to rehabilitate young Grauer’s gorillas rescued from poachers; and launched the Fossey Fund’s own Grauer’s gorilla monitoring and research project, in a vast landscape to the west of Virunga National Park.
The Virunga Mountains
Mountain gorillas inhabit the forested slopes of the Virunga volcanic mountain chain that straddles the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in central Africa’s Albertine Rift. (A related but separate population of mountain gorillas inhabits Bwindi National Park in Uganda.)
Virunga National Park
The Congo’s Virunga National Park, in the Virunga volcanic mountains, provides mountain gorilla habitat together with Rwanda’s neighboring Volcanoes National Park. Due to armed conflict, the Congo park guards are sometimes forced to evacuate, but persistence saves gorillas. When possible, the Fossey Fund joins them in anti-poaching patrols.
Protecting Grauer’s gorillas in Congo
West of the Viriungas, we work with the Union of Associations for Gorilla Conservation and Community Development (UGADEC), a network of community-based reserves linking two national parks, in a vast area that is home to nearly the entire range of the Grauer’s (eastern lowland) gorilla and to many other rare, important species such as the forest elephant, okapi, and eastern chimpanzee. The Fund has helped the community reserves achieve recognition from the Congo government so they can have the same legal status as the parks while retaining their management role.
The Grauer’s gorillas are estimated to number 5,000 or perhaps even fewer individuals.. Some new populations have been identified recently, though not enough to change their endangered status. They live at a variety of altitudes, not only in lowlands, but not as high up as the mountain gorillas. Due to years of political instability, agricultural expansion, mining, poor economic conditions and other factors, conservation in the area has become critical and the Fossey Fund has committed to helping provide long-term solutions.
A new Grauer’s gorilla initiative
The Fossey Fund operates three base camps, one in each of three community-based reserves: Reserve des Gorilles de Utunda et Watsa (REGOUWA), Reserve de Gorille de Punia (RGPU), and Conservation Communautaire pour la Reserve Forestiere de Bakano (COCREFOBA). From the camps, field staff patrol the surrounding forest, setting up temporary campsites in order to cover greater distances over several days.
During 2012, the program’s goal was to establish the camps and confirm the presence of Grauer’s gorillas in the community reserves. Through regular treks in the forest, field staff discovered nest sites, dung, and food remains that indeed indicated that Grauer’s gorillas are ranging in these areas. In 2012, a total of 30 expeditions found 36 gorilla sites. And, they believe they may have found a group of as many as 35 gorillas in REGOUWA! During 2013, the project will focus on selected groups.
Caring for rescued gorillas
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund cares for Grauer’s gorillas rescued from poachers and prepares them to return to the wild, at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) center, on a site donated by the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology (TCCB), next to the Tayna Nature Reserve. GRACE is operated by a small consortium, including the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, The Disney Company, the Congolese national park service (ICCN) and TCCB.
The European Union (EU) is the primary institutional donor to Virunga National Park, and has been collaborating with the Congolese Wildlife Authority since the 1980s. Learn more
The support of the European Commission (EC) and the European Development Fund (EDF) in Virunga has been fundamental to conservation in the park.
While the natural resources of the park are part of the Congolese national heritage, the efforts to protect those resources are increasingly, and rightly, being supported by the international community. The European Union was the first major donor to offer significant support to the conservation and development efforts in Virunga back in the late 1980s with the Kivu Program.
EU support has been strengthened since 2002 and Virunga is once again the subject of a major European Union funded programme amounting to over 11 million Euros, including 5 million Euros already spent, and 6 million Euros due to be disbursed.
Funds are directed toward infrastructure, training and institutional support and are channelled through organizations on the ground such as World Wildlife Fund and Africa Conservation Fund . Thanks to these monies, field activities are better resourced and crucial conservation efforts can forge ahead.
European Union funds have also been used exclusively to build this website that is the official website for Virunga National Park.
For further information on the EU’s activities in DR Congo please visithttp://www.delcod.ec.europa.eu/
The 11th Hour Project promotes a fuller understanding of the impact of human activity within the web of interdependent living systems. We connect organizations with information on how to develop a more responsible relationship with the world’s water, energy, and food resources. Learn more
Frankfurt Zoological Society
Frankfurt Zoological Society has provided support to Virunga since the 1950s. Learn more
FZS has been involved in biodiversity conservation in the Virunga ecosystem since Bernhard Grzimek visited the park in the 1950s. In the 1980s, FZS supported the very first habituation of mountain gorillas for tourism, and eventually, for chimpanzees as well. The civil war and unrest in eastern Congo caused support to decline in the early 1990s, but in 2003, the project was reinstated.
The program has focused on providing institutional support to ICCN through ranger training, provision of vehicles, uniforms, patrol rations, and aerial monitoring.
For more information about Frankfurt Zoological Society please visit our website at www.zgf.de.
Gearing Up for Gorillas
G4G is the only UK charity that focuses 100% on supporting ICCN Rangers and the Mountain Gorillas of Virunga National Park. Learn more
Linda Nunn, who leads G4G, believes the best way to secure a future for the mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo is to support the ICCN rangers, who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect the animals of Virunga National Park.
The G4G Mission:
- Provide consistent, ongoing practical help to the rangers by securing them the vehicles, equipment and funding they need to do their work.
- Raise awareness about the multiple threats that continue to face both the gorillas and rangers of Virunga National Park.
G4G works closely with Virunga Fund and Africa Conservation Fund to achieve their goals.
In May 2010 G4G held a Gorilla Gala in the UK to raise awareness about the plight of the Mountain Gorilla in DR Congo and also funds. Over $6,000 was raised for the Rangers of Virunga.
G4G is based in the UK and is run by volunteers and backed by an ever-growing team of supporters – all determined to make a real difference in Virunga National Park. To learn more, please visit www.g4g.co.uk. Thank you.
The Gorilla Doctors
The Gorilla Doctors’ international veterinary team is dedicated to saving the lives of Central Africa’s endangered mountain and Grauer’s gorillas through health care. Learn more
Powered by the nonprofit Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, Inc. and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, Gorilla Doctors treats wild human-habituated gorillas suffering from life-threatening injury and illness, aids in the rescue and treatment of orphaned gorillas, conducts gorilla disease research, and facilitates preventive health care for the people who work in the national parks and come into close contact with the gorillas.
For nearly 20 years, veterinarians have helped the rare mountain gorilla survive by providing life-saving veterinary care. These veterinarians treat serious injuries and illnesses, including those caused by people.
The project began with a single veterinarian and is now an independent, non-profit organization with eight veterinarians and a dozen support staff. Their patients include DR Congo’s Grauer’s gorillas, as well as the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. The Gorilla Doctors believe in a team-oriented approach to gorilla medicine. They track ailing gorillas and observe and treat them, if necessary, in their native habitat. Project staff also administer employee health programs for park rangers and guides, conduct clinical research, help screen domestic animals living near the parks for diseases, and treat other wildlife.
Without the Gorilla Doctors, mountain gorillas might not exist today. Sadly, both mountain and Grauer’s gorillas face ongoing threats, including war, poaching, habitat destruction, and human disease. Neither sub-specie has a captive population in sanctuaries or zoos. Their future rests entirely in the protection and restoration of their ecosystem.
If you would like to learn more about the work of the Gorilla Doctors please go to our website at www.gorilladoctors.org.
Happy Hollow Zoo
Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California is dedicated to wildlife and natural resource conservation, encouraging the development of positive attitudes towards animals and nature through community involvement. Learn more
Happy Hollow Zoo, though small, is involved in conservation projects in Africa, Asia, Central America and their own backyard.
The staff is passionate in their dedication to conservation, both locally and globally – working on local honey and native bee conservation, jaguar habitat preservation and supporting the Congo Rangers. Happy Hollow Park & Zoo serves as a model for green building and was the first Amusement Park & Zoo to become Gold LEED certified in 2011.
In 2006 Happy Hollow Staff, with nonprofit partner Happy Hollow Foundation, committed to providing support for the Rangers of Virunga National Park.
Innovation for Development and Environmental Protection (IDEP), based in N. Kivu, is an organization dedicated to the defense of animals. IDEP works in local communities around Virunga National Park to promote conservation. Past accomplishments include: preventing trafficking of primates, organizing public rallies against poaching, supporting the fisheries of Vitshumbi, and organizing mobile veterinary clinics.
International Gorilla Conservation Program
IGCP’s Democratic Republic of the Congo program focuses on working with National Park authorities and rangers to ensure the gorillas’ safety. Learn more
IGCP’s Democratic Republic of the Congo program focuses on working with Virunga National Park authorities and rangers to ensure the gorillas’ health and safety, while also initiating conservation enterprise projects that benefit communities on the Park’s borders.
IGCP has been working with Virunga National Park officials and government authorities since its current incarnation was founded in 1991. IGCP’s DRC program benefits from work in our four main programmatic areas: Strengthening the protection of mountain gorillas and their habitat through transboundary collaboration, establishing a strong information base to understand the dynamics between human populations and wildlife, working with local communities to create livelihood opportunities that are complementary and contribute to conservation, and advocating and strengthening supportive policy and legislation for conservation. In the Virunga region, we promote conservation enterprise, capacity building for Park management, support for ranger-based monitoring, and emergency support, with rapid response to threats to both gorilla and human communities.
IGCP is a collaborative effort of three respected international conservation organizations – African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). Our solid funding and knowledge base stems from these partners, and we continue to broaden our DRC program while strengthening its projects in the area and building the capacity of all stakeholders for more effectiveness in conservation of the gorillas and their habitat. Our long-term Virunga base and consistent support for those protecting the gorillas and aiding neighboring communities gives us the momentum for continuing to effect positive change in the area in 2008-2009 and beyond.
For more information on IGCP, please visit our website at www.igcp.org
The Murry Foundation
The Murry Foundation is dedicated to protecting the environment and helping both animals and human beings in need around the world. Learn more
The Murry Foundation is a non-profit organization whose people earn no salaries. Founder and chairman, Adam Murry, has dedicated his life to those less fortunate, whether they be animal or human – giving hope where there was once none.
The foundation’s activities include: constructing and maintaining schools for orphaned children, ensuring animal welfare, rehabilitation and release sanctuaries for endangered animals, supporting AIDS/HIV projects, and land acquisition for projects. The Murry Foundation believes in helping projects become completely self-sustaining, enabling long-term benefit to local communities around the world.
In Virunga National Park, the Murry Foundation is funding the $80,000 rebuilding of the primary school at Rumangabo, where 600 children, many the sons and daughters of rangers who protect the mountain gorillas, are striving to get an education.
The Murry Foundation also supports other like-minded charities and non-profit organizations. For further info, please go to www.themurryfoundation.com
The Thin Green Line Foundation
The Thin Green Line Foundation is an international NGO set up by rangers that supports the families of park rangers killed in the line of duty. Learn more
The Thin Green Line Foundation is an authorised charity, with full Deductible Gift Recipient status.
It was established out of the need of the International Ranger Federation to support its Park Rangers in the field.
It was founded by Sean Willmore, an award-winning conservationist, documentary filmmaker, Park Ranger and current President of the International Ranger Federation. (IRF)
Today the foundation is governed by a full board of directors; managed by Sean Willmore and supported by a host of pro bono professionals and dedicated grass roots volunteers.
Through its unique approach the foundation enjoys the support from a wide cross section of the worlds artistic and music community.
Proud Ambassadors and supporters include Dr. Jane Goodall, Tim Flannery, Gotye, and previous generous and vocal supporter the late Bryce Courtenay.
UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage worldwide considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. Learn more
UNESCO’s presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo dates back to 2000, when with the financial support of the United Nation’s Foundation (UNF) and the government of Belgium, it launched the project, “Biodiversity Conservation in Regions of Armed Conflict: Conserving World Heritage Sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The goal of the project is to ensure the conservation of World Heritage sites in the DRC, both during periods of civil unrest and in the long-term, by mobilizing financial, logistical, technical and diplomatic support at regional and international levels. The project also aims to strengthen the conservation of World Heritage sites and the Congolese Wildlife Authority (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature).
Virunga National Park became a World Heritage Site in 1979, and was added to the list of sites in danger in 1994. The other World Heritage sites in the DRC, Garamba, Kahuzi-Biega and Salonga National Parks and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve are also in danger. In Virunga National Park, as in the other sites, UNESCO’s goal is to:
- Bring direct field reinforcement;
- Convince leaders and other authorities involved in Virunga NP, through diplomatic intervention of the need to ensure the security of park personnel and equipment;
- Build capacity of personnel through training and establish collaborative long-term programs for training, surveillance, and monitoring;
- Survey post-war status and establish long-term coordinated monitoring of biodiversity within World Heritage sites);
- Supply timely communications in order to facilitate national and international response to crises facing the World Heritage sites – and communicate the broader need for conservation of biodiversity in the DRC;
- Promote collaborative programs with indigenous communities, improving resource conservation;
- Establish sustainable financing mechanisms to support Virunga NP in the long-term.
This project is implemented by the Congolese Wildlife Authority and a number of its partner conservation organizations working in Virunga NP, including World Wildlife Fund. The governments of Italy and Germany, the European Union, and the World Bank (through the Global Environment Fund) also contribute to the funding of this project.
The Service’s International Affairs program coordinates domestic and international efforts to protect, restore, and enhance the world’s diverse wildlife and their habitats with a focus on species of international concern. Learn more
Virunga Fund is the U.S. equivalent of Africa Conservation Fund, and like its sister organization, works closely with ICCN to raise global awareness about Virunga National Park. Learn more
Virunga Youth Alliance
The Virunga Youth Alliance is a local club that brings together over 130 members from the communities around the park to learn about environmental conservation through sport and other activities. Learn more
The Virunga Youth Alliance is a DRC-registered, non-profit organization set up by Balemba Balagizi to give the young people who live around Virunga National Park a diversion from the conflict, and to give them the opportunity to build lasting relationships. How does Balemba do this? Primarily through sports.
With 132 young people, 90 from Rumangabo and 42 from Kibumba, just down the road towards Goma, the group meets regularly to play soccer between communities. They also invite the rangers so they listen to their stories. Balemba believes that Virunga will stand a better chance of survival if young people can connect to nature through interaction with each other – and with the rangers.
As part of their effort to find solutions to deforestation, this year the Virunga Youth Alliance has already planted 1,050 trees near Rumangabo, in the buffer zone of the park. They have also held several workshops to raise awareness about HIV and other health issues.
The Virunga Youth Alliance wants to protect Virunga and its children.
Wildlife Conservation Society
WCS is a US-based NGO dedicated to saving wildlife and wildlands to assure a future for threatened species such as elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, cheetahs, tigers, sharks or lynx. Learn more
WCS started working in DR Congo in the 1980s with activities in the Ituri region (in the north-east), with sporadic research activities in different protected areas in other parts of the country.
In Virunga WCS initiated a presence in early 2000 with activities being implemented by other NGO partners with our funds. Later in 2003 WCS began with more concrete field activities.
Today WCS focuses on wildlife monitoring and transboundary collaboration with Uganda.
For more information on the Wildlife Conservation Society please go to our website at www.wcs.org
World Wildlife Foundation
WWF works closely with the Congolese Wildlife Authority & the communities living next to Virunga to develop sustainable ways of managing & using natural resources to prevent the destruction of the park. Learn more
The WWF Environmental Program (PEVi) has been working in and around the park for over 20 years. WWF works with the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN) and local communities on:
- Environmental education: the importance of preserving fauna and flora.
- Preventing deforestation: helping local farmers plant trees, development of energy-efficient stoves that reduce deforestation in the park – currently the main source of fuel wood.
- Securing a long-term future for the park: GPS mapping of the park boundaries and working with communities to manage the resources of the park in a sustainable way.
- Supporting ICCN: technical expertise, training, contribution to operational costs and planning.
For more information on World Wildlife Fund please visit our website www.wwf.org.
Zoological Society of London
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Learn more