Searching for Solutions to the Threats to Maiko
Categories: Journal no. 43, Threats, Mining for mineral resources, Protective Measures, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Maiko, Grauer's Gorilla, Gorilla Journal
Conservation in the Maiko National Park (MNP) remains difficult: the intensity of threats to the park has not decreased. It is an enormous challenge to keep these threats and their consequences within acceptable limits.
One of the main threats to the fauna and flora of the park is the commercial exploitation of minerals (gold, cassiterite, diamonds, etc.). Over 20 open-cast mines are operating inside the park: 14 are located in the northern sector, 8 in the centre and 5 in the southern sector. The mines belong to, or are co-owned by, armed bands and local chiefs.
Several sensitization and lobbying missions have taken place, and follow-up activities have been carried out, targeting both the political-administrative and military authorities and the local population. All activities have the same primary goals:
- to strengthen the understanding and appreciation of the public and the authorities concerning the need to conserve the fauna and flora of the park and its surroundings,
- to promote cooperation between the park and the communities,
- to help people understand principles for biodiversity conservation in the park,
- to lobby national and provincial decision-makers to gain their whole-hearted support for the protection and the promotion of the park,
- to provide new support to the MNP management to enable response to the requirements for conservation and sustainable development.
In short, activities are aimed at defending and promoting the interests of biodiversity conservation of the park, which is under severe threat.
The Park Management has just launched a sensitization campaign called "SOS MAIKO" in cooperation with the environmental service, the local authorities and the community reserves. The campaign is meant to awaken a collective conscience to support the conservation of the fauna and flora. Among other goals it aims to re-establish the integrity and security of the park by dedicated lobbying and improved monitoring activities in the park and its surroundings.
The sensitization campaign is the final remaining activity before the eco-guards relocate the remaining stragglers who are staying on in the park. The park’s managers have granted an extension of one week beyond the allocated deadline for the remaining people to leave.
A joint commission consisting of representatives of the park, the environmental service, the mines, the community reserves, the army and the local administration is currently touring the quarries and the villages surrounding the park in order to persuade the illegal miners to leave the park voluntarily before the new deadline.