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CMS Meeting Urges Stronger Protection for Gorillas

31 March 2011: An international meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), has called for better enforcement of wildlife law in the 10 countries in Africa with gorilla populations.

Meeting from 29-30 March 2011, representatives from international and UN organizations, including the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), INTERPOL, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and TRAFFIC, national governments in the region, local wildlife authorities and non-governmental organizations, and international experts, reviewed current conservation activities affecting the four sub-species of gorillas in East and Central Africa. They also discussed solutions to threats to gorilla populations, in particular commercial poaching for bushmeat and the live trade.

The meeting concluded that the following must be strengthened: transboundary collaboration; coordination with UN peacebuilding missions, such as the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); and law enforcement agencies, with increased resources and training for law enforcement personnel and rangers.

On transboundary collaboration, the CMS Secretariat noted that while gorilla populations across Africa are in decline, the numbers of two small populations of mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda now are increasing. Rwanda, the DRC and Uganda have been engaged in a trilateral transboundary regional cooperation across the Virunga Mountains since 1999, in one of the most successful examples for transboundary collaboration, with some revenues from gorilla tourism shared between the countries.

The CMS Agreement on the Conservation of Gorillas and their Habitats, which came into force in 2008, provides the framework for regional cooperation in the long-term protection of gorillas in the 10 countries of the Congo Basin. Six range states have signed the agreement: the Central African Republic (CAR), Republic of Congo, DRC, Gabon, Nigeria and Rwanda. [CMS Press Release] [CMS Gorillas Agreement]