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International Gorilla Conservation Programme

International Gorilla Conservation Programme
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Purpose Environmental protection
Region served
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Eugène Rutagarama
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Formerly called
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The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) was formed in 1991 to ensure that the critically endangered mountain gorillas are conserved in their habitat in the mountain forests of the Virunga Massif in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[1]


The programme grew out of the work of Dian Fossey, who began to study Rwandan mountain gorillas in the 1960s. African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) President Robinson McIlvaine later said that "There would be no mountain gorillas in the Virungas today ... were it not for Dian Fossey's tireless efforts over many years".[2] McIlvaine initiated formation of the Mountain Gorilla Project in 1979, the predecessor to the IGCP, while he was president of the AWF.[3] The International Gorilla Conservation Programme was formally established in 1991 by the AWF, Fauna & Flora International and the World Wide Fund for Nature.[1]

During the ongoing and linked conflicts of the Rwandan Civil War (1990-1993) followed by the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 and the Second Congo War (1998-2003) the best that could be done was to attempt to support park workers, many of whom lost their lives.[1]


The International Gorilla Conservation Programme works with the Rwanda Development Board, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature. The IGCP tries to gain support for conservation among the local communities, and to ensure that the protected area authorities collaborate with these local communities.[1] Among other activities, the IGCP works with Virunga Artisans, which markets handmade products of artisans who live near the Volcanoes, Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks.[4] A census of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif in March and April 2010 showed that there had been a 26.3% increase in the population over the past seven years, an encouraging sign that conservation efforts were succeeding.[5]

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