Gorillas in danger: save Kafuga Forest Reserve!

A juvenile mountain gorilla climbing a tree in Bwindi National Park, Uganda Mountain gorillas survive only in strictly protected forest reserves (© Mondberge)

Nearly half of Earth's remaining mountain gorillas – only around 400 animals – live deeply secluded in Uganda’s Bwindi National Park. But now, tea planters want to clear-cut an adjoining buffer zone, Kafuga Pocket Forest Reserve. The destruction of the forest would push the critically endangered gorillas one step closer to extinction.

Call to action

To: the Ugandan Minister of Water and Environment and relevant authorities of Kisoro District

Prevent the destruction of Kafuga Forest – the survival of the mountain gorillas in neighboring Bwindi National Park is more important than tea plantations.

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The destruction is already in full swing: 17 men were detained in late May for allegedly felling trees without permission. “The court wants proof from us that they were doing so within Kafuga Forest”, explains Robert Tumwesigye Baganda, program director of Pro-biodiversity Conservationists in Uganda (PROBICOU). The organization is now surveying the forest. “We cannot protect the forest effectively without maps.” 

Kafuga Forest is an ecological treasure trove with 200 species of trees, some of which only exist there. It is home to hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, rodents and even chimpanzees. The 250-hectare forest reserve is a vital ecological island surrounded by tea plantations and the fields of subsistence farmers. Many locals rely on the forest as a source of fruit, medicinal plants and small quantities of firewood.

Kafuga Forest was once a part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, one of the last refuges for mountain gorillas. Today it serves as a buffer between human settlements and the gorilla habitat. Environmentalists therefore warn that the destruction of the forest will endanger the remaining gorillas: without the buffer zone, human encroachment on Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is virtually inevitable.

Robert Tumwesigye Baganda’s organization PROBICOU has been working with local communities to raise 30,000 saplings for planting in Kafuga Forest to mitigate damage in recent years and secure its future. But now, the very existence of the forest hangs in the balance.

Please call on the Ugandan Minister of Water and Environment and the local authorities to protect Kafuga Pocket Forest Reserve. The survival of the gorillas must not be jeopardized for tea plantations.

Letter

To: the Ugandan Minister of Water and Environment and relevant authorities of Kisoro District

Dear Minister Kamuntu,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Uganda can be proud to call a unique natural treasure its own: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is home to 400 of the last mountain gorillas on Earth. The survival of the species hinges on the conservation and protection of their habitat.

Uganda’s efforts to this end have been exemplary: Kafuga Pocket Forest Reserve in Kisoro District acts as a buffer for Bwindi National Park. Environmentalists emphasize its key role in protecting the gorillas.

Kafuga Forest is currently in grave danger, however. Tea planters want to clear the forest for plantations.

While tea is certainly an important export product for Uganda, the extinction of the mountain gorilla is far too high a price for short-term economic gain.

Please do everything to prevent the destruction of Kafuga Forest to ensure the survival of the gorillas – the natural heritage of your country.

Kind regards,

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