- “A major success of the project is the first gorilla tourism programme managed by the local communities and taking place in a community conservation area: the Lossi Zone”.
- “The results of the research studies are very relevant for the gorilla tourism project and therefore were distributed among communities and stakeholders”.
- “Illegal activities have been reduced in the area thanks to the activities developed with the support of the communities”.
The Lossi Fauna Reserve is a community-based conservation satellite of Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the north of the Republic of Congo. Lossi plays an important conservation role as it lies within the transboundary TRIDOM (Tri-National Dja-Odzala-Minkebe) landscape spanning the Dja Park in Cameroon, Odzala in Congo and Minkébé in Gabon. Thanks to its location in the south-west of Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Lossi connects other remaining forests of this remarkable, diverse landscape. This region holds important gorilla, chimpanzee and elephant populations. However, more than 50 per cent of their habitats lie in logging areas. The expansion of logging companies is the main threat to this region, and major efforts have been invested to certify those concessions.
The larger Odzala area underwent at least three Ebola virus outbreaks between 2002 and 2005, which resulted in an estimated loss of 70 to 95 per cent of their gorilla populations. Understanding the results of demographic modelling studies will provide further information on the recovery potential of gorillas from Ebola virus outbreaks to ensure they are protected. Other threats include poaching and logging in the surrounding forests.
The project has supported community-based management activities to conserve the forest ecosystem (led by a community committee composed of teachers, parents, students and social workers) and a commitment to change towards sustainability.
Lossi Ecological Monitoring Programme is collecting updated information, including from new research transects, on illegal human activities and on changes in great ape demographics as a consequence of Ebola epidemic events. The project increased anti-poaching surveys and capacity-building of park staff as a way of improving the management of ecological corridors and protecting wildlife, and involved local communities in the management structure. An education and environmental awareness programme was also rolled out in over 70 villages, reaching an estimated 10,000 villagers.
Ndoki-Odzala-Lossi is the first example in the wider region of successful community participation in the management of a forest continuum between the protected areas and logging concessions, and there is a clear opportunity to extend the community-based conservation and management model throughout the entire landscape. This initiative acted as a laboratory for developing new models for African ape conservation programmes, and new strategies for managing and financing these programmes.
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Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN)