Re: Gorilla Trek
- Interesting article in the NYT about how "eco-mercenaries" are
helping to stop poaching of bush meat in Cambodia and elsewhere.
Key is to interdict the entire food chain including paid spies in the
villages, monitoring restaurants and hiring locals to ferret out the
poachers in the bush.
In Gabon, the gorillas and other primates and the elephants have been
fortunate in that many villages in the deep bush have been abandoned
with the villagers moving to larger villages around the major urban
areas. This also includes the pygmies who were the best hunters of
the primates and elephants.
However, taking up the human vacuum is an influx of foreign intruders
from Cameroon and other neighboring states of Gabon. They are not in
Gabon to find food for their families but to kill game and capture
young primates to make a living.
That is where ecotourism comes in starting in Lope Reserve. Gabon
soon will designate Lope as the first National Park in Gabon. I am in
contact with the primary outside advisor to the new park, Dr. Blom of
ECOFAC and of Dutch decent. He has a daunting task to convince the
Government to devote the necessary resources to keep the poachers out
of the new park. If the park proves a success with tourists bringing
in millions of dollar of revenue, other national parks could be
opened throughout Gabon, where the famed conservationist, Micharl
Fay, labeled "the last wild place on earth".
No one knows whether 1.5 million Gabonese can co-exist for the next
few decades or longer with 40,000 gorillas and 50,000 elephants. A
successful ecotourism program may be the best solution for all but
- E-mail received today from head of primate project at La Lope in
"I share you concern about the impact of poaching and the bush meat
trade on gorillas and other wildlife. This is indeed the biggest
conservation challenge in this part of Africa. It seems that the
Governments of the region are waking up to these realities and some
encouraging policy changes have been announced. For example the
President of Gabon has announced the creation of 12 national parks
and an office of National Parks. The decrees are expected this week.
Of course we need to implement these policy changes. As little
resources are available at present, our focus will be on capacity
building and finding the finances to make it happen.
The biggest challenge will be to assure long term funding of anti-
poaching operations. We hope to create trust funds to achieve this."