Tourism is an essential component in the conservation strategy of the Virunga National Park in Congo, one of the last natural gorilla sanctuaries left in the world. However, all tourism activity has ceased due to the containment measures put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has not only negatively impacted the Park on a financial level but also on a logistical level: essential protection patrols and wild gorillas census are organized in coordination with visits. Pre-pandemic conservation efforts were already extremely challenging due to various political and security crises in the area.
We were grateful to be awarded the IUCN Save Our Species protection grant from the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The SOS grant, in partnership with the European Union, helped sustaining the protection of the mountain gorillas at a pace comparable to a pre-pandemic frequency. It helped covering the salaries of 42 guards and 60 trackers until tourism activities can resume. It also supported the construction of a new water access point for the neighboring population in an area where water is scare.
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save Our Species. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Virunga Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.