This national park is situated in the Kivu district, one of the most densely populated areas in Zaire. It is also one of the most fertile regions. The park's natural resources are under severe pressure. Originally, one part of the present park was a forest reserve. In November 1970, it was gazetted a national park in order to protect the eastern lowland or Grauer's gorilla (Gorilla gorilla graueri) which was seriously threatened even at that time. In 1975, the park's size was increased from 600 to 6,000 km2 to protect the transitional vegetation formation between montane and lowland rain forest.
The park was given the name of two extinct volcanoes in the original section: the Kahuzi (3,308 m) and the Biega (2,790 m). The original park section contains various types of vegetation: bamboo forest, primary and secondary montane forest and cyperus swamps. The larger new part is covered by lowland rain forest. The whole park has an exceptionally high diversity of plant and animal species characteristic of each type of vegetation. In the old part, four groups of gorillas have been habituated to people; they are the most important tourist attraction. Ecotourism is the principal source of income for the park. Due to its ecological importance, the Kahuzi-Biega National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Conflicts with the Surrounding Population
Before we introduce the work of the IZCN/GTZ project, it is necessary to give a brief description of the conflicts between the park and the local population in its surroundings. The people consider the national park laws that prohibit any human activity in these areas to be too severe. Conflicts arise between the habitual rights of the people to use certain areas and the right of the state to protect these areas.
The people around the old part of the park live in poor conditions and at high density (ca. 300 people per km2). Although the local population knows more or less where the park borders are, they exert severe pressure on the park mainly through their need for new fields, pastures and forest products (firewood, timber for building, game, mushrooms, medicinal plants). A corridor of 7.5 km breadth connecting the mountain forest with the lowland rain forest partly belongs to the Nindja community. 30% to 35% of this community are inside the park. Before the park was extended, the government did not negotiate with the local population about their habitual rights. Today, about 15,000 people are living within the national park, in Nindja 2,300 persons. It is hoped that compensation measures will be an incentive for them to leave the park voluntarily.
The new part of the park contained several villages before it was added. In this zone the population density is less than 10 people per km2 except for some concentrations in mining areas. The people still living in the park continue to exploit the park in their traditional way by farming, keeping livestock, hunting, and mining for precious metals. The inhabitants of villages in close proximity to the park farm within its borders. As this area is so remote, the local population did not know that they were living close to a national park for a long time, and they were told about its extension only a few years ago by the authorities.
The Project and its Activities
In view of the complexity of the problems mentioned above, IZCN, the Zairean nature conservation authority, looked for a foreign partner to assist with the biodiversity conservation of the national park. To this end, IZCN together with GTZ (German Society for Technical Cooperation) initiated an integrated conservation project in 1985. Its goal is the protection of the park and, at the same time, the sustainable development of its surroundings. In February 1995, the achievements of the project were assessed and it was subsequently decided to continue it from October 1995 for another 3 years.
In the course of their work, project staff has been confronted several times by social and political problems in the area. They interfered with the work considerably in one way or another. For instance, in October 1991, the GTZ funds were frozen because of the political crisis in Kinshasa. From then until the beginning of 1995, when the ban was lifted, the project worked with considerably reduced resources. When hundreds of thousands of refugees arrived in Bukavu from Rwanda in July 1994, activities had to be reduced even further as all project staff were occupied with emergency help for the refugees in the second half of 1994.
In the first phase of the project, the most important objectives were the improvement of park protection, the expansion of the infrastructure for tourists and research. Since 1988, the project has increased its efforts to find long term solutions for the integration of conservation with the interests of the surrounding population. This is to be achieved mainly by decreasing human pressure on the natural resources.
The following measures were taken towards this goal:
The activities are concentrated in various areas, depending on the pressure exerted by the local population. Up to now, attention has focused in the old part of the park on the critical zones Kalonge, Nindja and Tshibati as well as the station Tshivanga. In addition, work has now also started in the surroundings of Itebero. Nzovu will be included in autumn 1995.
Conclusions and Prospects
Since 1985, the IZCN/GTZ project has consistently pursued its goals, even if progress was slowed down at times due to the circumstances. Currently, the continuation of the activities will depend very much on the improvement of the political and economic situation in Zaire and on the situation of the Rwandan refugees in the area. We wish to take this opportunity to ask the international community to assist Zaire as far as possible to prevent the trade in animal species included in Appendix I of CITES. As a consequence of the alarming economic situation, this trade has become an important source of income. Currently, every other month a chimpanzee or a gorilla baby is confiscated from dealers by government authorities. If this continues, the establishment of an orphanage in Zaire could be considered.
Mbake Sivha and the Belgian Genevieve Trépant together with their team were essentially responsible for this task. Among their activities in 1994, the following should be mentioned:
In the meantime, the sensitization activities, which were originally limited to the area around the old part of the park, were extended to the new part near Itebero and will soon include Nzovu. This summer a study is planned that will determine how the work with the pygmies can be improved. Once this has been established, a new and highly qualified team will be selected for this task.
Mbake Sivha's Past and Future Activities
The biologist Mbake Sivha has so far carried out all the research and she led the sensitization team in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Since 1993 she has been collecting data for a research project which she analyzed in a report completed in December 1994. The following is a summary of this report.
Maintenance of the roads in the park and its surroundings enhances the ability to control the park, provides the infrastructure for tourism and contributes to the development of the park's surroundings. However, the roads also contribute to the park's destruction. Several studies have dealt with the impact of the Kisangani-Bukavu road which transverses a part of the park. These studies provided suggestions for reducing the destruction of the park's flora and fauna. This is also one of the aims of the present study, which investigates the long-term impact of traffic in the park.
Large Mammals Near the Kisangani-Bukavu Road
The road transverses 18.4 km of the old park section. Along this stretch the following plant communities can be seen: 10.6 km of secondary forest (Hagenia and Myrianthus), 2.8 km of bamboo forest, 2.7 km of swamp, 2.3 km of mixed forest (secondary and bamboo). Elephant and gorilla tracks as well as sightings of these animals were recorded on six transects (1 km long, with 500 m on each side of the road). Three transects were in the secondary forest, one in the mixed forest and two in the bamboo forest. From October to December 1993, the transects were patrolled by a guide and a tracker once a week, and from the end of January 1994 on a biweekly basis.
From November through May, the gorillas spent most time in the secondary forest. There they moved less than in the bamboo forest. From May to the end of August, the dry season, they primarily stayed in the secondary forest and swamp. From September to the first half of December, they preferred the bamboo forest. Gorillas frequently transverse the road, but not as often as elephants do.
Continuation of Research
In the future, Mbake Sivha will completely concentrate on her research work and continue to investigate the impact of traffic on gorilla and chimpanzee reproduction, mortality and ranging. She is employed by the IZCN and receives some additional financial support from the GTZ. Her two co-workers are also supported by the GTZ. In agreement with Georg Dörken, director of the GTZ project, the Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe will support Mbake Sivha's research. We will fund the equipment as well as the salaries of local scientific assistants. We intend to support the work for 3 years.
Sensitizing the pygmies for the importance of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park has proven to be a difficult and tedious endeavor. We are therefore still in the experimental phase of the project, continuously increasing our knowledge. Our efforts to alleviate the hardships of the pygmies are primarily focused on two aspects: opportunities for earning money (maintenance of roads and other projects in the park) and support in agriculture. For road maintenance, a total of 62 pygmies were employed in 1994 for more or less extended periods of time. The seeds for agriculture (beans, corn and potatoes) were provided by the project. However, due to various reasons, the yield was fairly meager.
Another task has been sensitizing womens' organizations in the surroundings of the park. In 1994, the organization Amajambere in Tshivanga was visited. For 2 years, the wives of the park employees have been meeting there to discuss subjects like opportunities for earning money (retail business etc.), knitting, embroidery, establishing a nursery school and hygiene. In the beginning of 1995, the women were also informed about the methods of birth control.
644 persons were guided through the Kahuzi-Biega National Park in 1994, of which 488 were Zaireans and 116 Germans. An analysis of questionnaires shows that they were generally content with their visit.
The Lost Gorillas Expedition found a small population of Eastern Lowland or Grauer Gorillas at Mt. Tshiaberimu in Zaire. Mt. Tshiaberimu (1,850 to ca. 3,100 m high) is located off the northwest corner of Lake Edward in eastern Zaire. This roughly 60 km2 of mountain forest is all that remains of what were more than 450 km2 of forest earlier this century. Mt. Tshiaberimu, which once held a large population of gorillas, is part of the Parc National des Virunga but the corridor connecting it to the main portion of the park has been encroached upon and destroyed. Conrad Aveling undertook a survey of Mt. Tshiaberimu in 1986 and concluded that no more than 20 gorillas remained.
From 30 May through 7 June 1995 we undertook a census of the gorillas there, examined their habitat, and assessed the threats to the area. This work was undertaken with considerable cooperation and assistance from the park wardens and rangers, and other personnel of the IZCN (Institut Zairois pour la Conservation de la Nature). Funding was provided by the Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe and Zoo Atlanta.
Three teams of guides and researchers searched suitable habitat for gorillas for seven consecutive days. Groups of 4 and 11 gorillas, plus one lone adult male, were located during this intensive search. We believe that the total number of gorillas remaining on Mt. Tshiaberimu is 16 to 18 and that only two groups occur. They use an area of approximately 18 km2 at 2,800 to 2,900 m in the southwest corner of Mt. Tshiaberimu. This is an area dominated by high bamboo (Arundinaria alpina) and large Podocarpus latifolius, intermixed in some places with Galiniera saxifraga, Ilex mitis, Rapanea melanophloeos, Xymalos monospora, Mimulopsis spp. and Sericostachys scandens.
For as far as one can see from the high points on Mt. Tshiaberimu, there is no natural forest remaining in the region except for a few square kilometres of forest on some of the higher, distant ridges. Even these are, however, being felled and will probably be completely destroyed within the next few years. There is extensive agricultural encroachment around the entire boundary of Mt. Tshiaberimu and this is, undoubtedly, the greatest single threat to the area and its gorillas. In some places, the forest has been completely removed for a distance of more than 1 km inside the boundary. Pit-sawing is another serious problem. We estimate that more than 500 large Podocarpus have been pit-sawn during the last few years. There is ample evidence that gold mining along the rivers was at a high level in the recent past as there is much damage to the river bed, river banks and bordering forest. This activity appears to have declined considerably in recent years.
Poaching is at a very low level at this time but was probably much more prevalent in the past. Only one active trap was found although several old traps set for blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis stuhlmanni) and L'Hoest's monkey (Cercopithecus lhoesti) were located. Black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus nigrifrons) and yellow-backed duiker (Cephalophus sylvicultor) are still present but at extremely low densities. It may be that poaching is not a worthwhile activity given the low densities of prey. There was no evidence that gorillas are hunted on Mt. Tshiaberimu and the park angers with whom we worked claimed to have never heard of gorilla hunting in the area.
Signs of elephant were abundant throughout the area between 2,600 and 3,100 m. The rangers estimate that about 30 elephants remain on Mt. Tshiaberimu. There is almost certainly no movement of elephants between this area and other parts of the park as the former corridor is densely populated by people.
During the survey, one of us (TMB) collected data on the avifauna between 2,550 m and 3,100 m. 15 of the 33 Albertine Rift Afromontane Region endemic bird species and subspecies were observed. Only a few of the regional endemics not seen would be expected to occur above 2,500 m. Two species not previously known to be present in the highlands to the west of Lake Edward were found, the Kivu ground thrush (Zoothera tanganjicae) and Shelley's crimson-wing (Cryptospiza shelleyi). It is likely that a few other regional endemics occur but were over- looked during this short survey. Mt. Tshiaberimu has a rich avifauna with several species of particular conservation concern.
It is clear that the forests of Mt. Tshiaberimu, and the important biodiversity they support, are under severe threat from the surrounding human population. Conservation inputs from outside of Zaire to IZCN are urgently needed if this area is to have any long-term future. We recommend that (1) immediate material and logistic support be provided to the twelve park rangers working to protect Mt. Tshiaberimu and (2) that a multi-faceted, long-term conservation project for this area be initiated no later than 1996.
Thomas M. Butynski
and Esteban Sarmiento
In mid-March 1995, poachers killed four gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, near Ruhizha, with spears. The gorillas killed were an adult female, a blackback male and two juveniles. The first carcass was found on 19 March, the others later. Some of them were partially mauled by dogs that probably had accompanied the poachers.
The gorillas belonged to a group of 18 animals, called the Kyaguliro group, that had been under habituation for some time for scientific research. Therefore, every group member was individually known. As two gorilla babies were missing after the incident, it is assumed that the poachers wanted to capture the babies for smuggling them. To do that, they had to kill the older animals who defended their young.
Reports on the discovery of the carnage are contradictory. On the one hand, the animals were reported to have died on 15 or 16 March. According to other sources, field assistants of the ITFC (Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation) sighted poachers with spears and dogs on 18 March and passed on this information, but the rangers did not show any concern because poachers were regularly in the area. (Already in November 1994, Jaap Schoorl, the technical advisor of CARE in Bwindi and the responsible person for anti-poaching measures, had shown us a map of the national park with multiple-use zones and areas of increased poaching; they overlapped nearly completely.)
Three suspects were arrested on March 24; five others were still at large. President Yoweri Museveni ordered that top criminal investigators should be sent to Kabale. The arrested persons are probably not the ones who had planned the crime. Employees of the national park may have been involved in leading the poachers to the gorilla group, which was not easy to locate.
From articles by Ndyakira Amooti in New Vision
Since the publication about the circumstances surrounding the death of Klaus-Jurgen Sucker, leader of the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Project, in June 1994 and the involvement of two CARE employees into this tragic incident several things happened more or less simultaneously:
Philip Johnston, director of CARE USA delivered an ultimatum. He imposed upon us a deadline for the end of March 95: until then the Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe was to take back all allegations against the CARE employees and issue an apology to CARE in which all accusations are retracted that were made implicating CARE and its employees in the death of Klaus-Jurgen Sucker. If we did not meet these requests by the set deadline, Johnston announced to forward this matter to CARE's German counsel for immediate action. In his opinion, the BRD has an obligation to help repair the damage that it has caused to CARE.
We took this threat very seriously and asked Johnston to clarify his alle- gations in order to meet his demands. We also suggested an enquiry by an independent agency or council in order to re-evaluate the outcome of BRD's investigation. During this re-evaluation everybody involved from CARE, USAID and UNP (Uganda National Parks) as well as people from IGCP (International Gorilla Conservation Programme), BRD and others should be questioned. We backed this proposal by stating that if CARE's staff really has nothing to hide and there has been no wrongdoing on their side, than it should be no problem for him to accept this re- evaluation.
Just 10 days before Johnston's threat, the BRD had received a letter from Eric Edroma, director of UNP, dated 6 March 1995. Edroma also was quite upset about the article in the Gorilla Journal. He wrote: "... the article in the journal has caused concern which is breeding regrettable consequences to unnecessarily many parties concerned. The article was uncalled for, unprofessional and unethical. ... We must now take a deep breath and review the programme for gorilla conservation in Mgahinga. I am afraid it will take a while before a firm decision is taken. In the meantime the consent I signed ... to carry out a short study on multiple use in Mgahinga is regrettably suspended immediately. ... Once the Board of Trustees meets to take a decision on the unfortunate and uncalled for situation, I will get to you and your other partners like Deutscher Tierschutzbund."
Thereby Eric Edroma took back the recommendations of the "November negotiations" (Gorilla Journal 2/1994, page 9), including the important study on the impact of multiple-use projects on the mountain gorillas and their habitat. This decision is a major setback for the protection of the Ugandan gorillas. Up to now, he has still not approved of any German NGO resuming the support for Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (MGNP). The reason is obviously the still unresolved conflict between CARE and the BRD. Nevertheless, it is very strange that Edroma is delaying financial and personnel involvement of NGOs like the Deutscher Tierschutzbund that are not involved in the conflict with CARE
At the beginning of May 1995, we asked CARE to renegotiate everything in order to find ways to develop a mutual partnership in gorilla conservation work in Uganda. Finally, nearly at the end of June, there was an answer. It was again Philip Johnston who this time saluted BRD's interest in the well-being of Ugandan gorillas and in wildlife throughout the world, and who stated "... we feel it necessary to point out that the choice of promoting a multiple use strategy in and around the parks has been made by the Ugandan government". And he explained that CARE would be willing to join a meeting called by UNP at which the BRD is present to discuss UNP policy on multiple use and its implementation in Bwindi and other national parks. He never stood up this offer.
In August Edroma wrote: "... UNP will invite bids for donor support for that (Mgahinga) national park." Meaning that the organization that puts down the largest sum will be allowed to manage the park. This will probably be CARE backed by a 57 Million Dollar budget from the USAID. No one is asking if they really understand something about park management and gorilla protection.
CARE/DTC's motive to attain complete control of the Mgahinga Park seems close at hand. The successful establishment of multiple-use in MGNP not only ascertains employment for the project leaders, but also monetary funds, as CARE/DTC almost solely depends on USAID's support. A mid-term evaluation that has been kept secret so far has shown that DTC's project was not at all proceeding as expected. The fault for this was accredited to Klaus-Jurgen Sucker. Consequently, the CARE employees Rob Wild and Philip Franks put more pressure on him. CARE/DTC needed full control of MGNP to implement multiple-use according to their intentions.
In the Impenetrable Forest, the other Ugandan park where mountain gorillas live, CARE/DTC has already managed to attain control of the conservation measures within the park and started various multiple-use projects. This development in the Ugandan gorilla conservation areas is very critical in the view of species conservation. An developmental aid organization that totally lacks experience in mountain gorilla conservation and that is not even willing to consider the advice of experienced conservationists, has now attained control of the habitat of these threatened primates. The incentive is solely the establishment of projects for multiple-use, although ecologists have warned against this and scientific evidence to support multiple-use is still lacking. A risky experiment is being undertaken in a highly complex and vulnerable ecosystem. The losses that we already can count today (e.g. four dead gorillas in Bwindi) can not be replaced.
Although this final report should be viewed with
consideration to the fact that my involvement in the MGNP
(Mgahinga Gorilla National Park) was prematurely terminated, the
goals of the project, i.e. to establish a functioning national
park and to improve the protection of the local flora and fauna,
were successfully met. To install another person to continue the
project is unrealistic and of high risk, particularly in view of
the possible motives for my transfer. Unfortunately, the
remaining time available to me before my transfer on August 1,
1994, does not permit me to travel to Germany right now to
personally inform you of the current situation. I will undertake
everything in my power to personally get in touch with you as
soon as possible.
These are Klaus-Jürgen Sucker's concluding lines in his final letter to the Deutscher Tierschutzbund dated June 15. The letter arrived after his death.
In the 2/1994 issue of the Gorilla
Journal, we wrote about his tragic death and its possible
background. Even today, almost a year later, the circumstances
leading to his death remain unclear. For each question answered,
three new ones arise. The Office of the District Attorney in
Bielefeld has not concluded its judicial inquiry, as it still
awaits results from investigations in Uganda. The autopsy, which
was performed under German standards, thereby neglecting African
conditions, led to the following, carefully worded result:
The results of the autopsy, histological preparations and chemo-toxicological analyses do not permit any other interpretation except that Mr. Sucker died by hanging...The situation in which the deceased body was found and the pathological-anatomical evidence do not exclude suicide by hanging.
Ultimately, he died of suffocation.
In November 1994, Karl-Heinz Kohnen and I visited Uganda for nearly four weeks. During our stay, we hoped to find possible explanations for Klaus-Jürgen Sucker's death and to evaluate the feasibility of continuing his work in MGNP. Most of our findings are based on confidential information and personal communications. To protect our informants, the following assessment of the circumstances leading to his death is based on excerpts from his diary and letters, and in addition, on the results of our own investigation which can be published without consequences for those who provided the information.
Already the 17th MGNP project report for the period January 1
through March 31, 1994, provides the following, carefully
formulated indication of tragic things to come:
... Moreover, it is quite clear, that the Development Through Conservation Project (abbreviated CARE/DTC) could jeopardize the species protection and conservation objectives through questionable utilization of the park's resources and by getting the national park management under control using dubious political methods like favouring certain persons within the national park management.
Diary entry dated March 16, 1994:
The extension of my work permit is prevented by USAID (the main sponsor for CARE/DTC and Uganda National Parks) and Rob Wild (a CARE/DTC employee).
Twelve days later on March 28, Eric Edroma, Director of Uganda
National Parks (UNP), the authority that employed Klaus-Jürgen
as a park warden, spoke out:
He (Eric Edroma) took me aside and confided that Rob Wild, Rob Clausen (Director of CARE in Uganda) and somebody else had stormed into his office and vehemently protested against the prolongation of my stay. Edroma tried to straighten things out.
Diary entry April 17, 1994:
Philip Franks told Edroma that he feels that I am opposing everything that comes from DTC. The work permit has still not come through.
On May 5, Eric Edroma told Klaus-Jürgen that he was being blackmailed by USAID and CARE: USAID had threatened to withhold any additional funding if Klaus-Jürgen did not leave the MGNP. The authenticity of this information has been confirmed by three independent sources.
The post office box for the MGNP as well as the CARE/DTC
headquarters are located in the main post office of Kabale. The
fact that Klaus-Jürgen Sucker's letters were intercepted and
opened is indicated by his remark on May 8:
My letters are opened (in Kabale).
How and who was able to intercept his outgoing and incoming mail was elucidated during our November investigations. In the post office of Kabale, we were informed that Tony Kirungi, Chief Park Warden of the MGNP and thus Klaus-Jürgen Sucker's counterpart in Uganda, had a second key to the post office box and regularly came to pick up the mail.
How well he made use of his key became evident during a discussion on November 7, 1994, in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. We had arranged a meeting with Liz Macfie, who is responsible for the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In the course of our discussion, which naturally also concerned Klaus-Jürgen Sucker's death, Liz Macfie suddenly took out a letter from her pocket and asked if we knew it. It was a copy of a highly confidential letter, solely mailed to two recipients on June 11, 1994: Karl-Heinz Kohnen, who received his copy of the letter, and Klaus-Jürgen Sucker, who never received it. The content of the letter was a detailed strategy for fending off CARE/DTC attacks by employing scientific and political strategies. On the copy which Liz Macfie held in her hand, we saw a remark in handwriting saying "confidential". She told us that everybody at UNP and CARE had a copy of it, before suddenly realizing that one of the recipients was actually sitting right in front of her. Embarassed by her own disclosure, she discretely changed the subject of our conversation while tucking the letter back into her pocket, just as suddenly as it had appeared.
Back to the events in May 1994. Klaus-Jürgen Sucker naturally
noticed that the situation had become more and more threatening
to him, which is evident from a letter that he wrote to the
Deutscher Tierschutzbund on May 18:
It is apparent that the US-American government is placing great effort into trying to control the frontier areas (to Rwanda). The Mgahinga Project is located in one of these frontier areas which supposedly is valued for its potential to control, aid and stabilize the neighbouring country. An attempt by the Americans to persuade the Uganda immigration authority to cancel my work and residence permit has obviously failed. UNP has stressed how important my achievements are to turn a barren protected area into a functioning national park... The pressure on the project, especially by competing organizations, has not lessened. On the contrary, it has been intensified by questionable measures undertaken by CARE/DTC: they promised to the rangers to increase their salary... False rumours have been spread about me. The reason for all this, as I have already mentioned in my previous letter, is surely CARE/DTC's drive for multiple-use of the MGNP. The local population is of course easily mobilized for this... The director (Edroma) visited Kisoro on May 10 to 11, 1994, and had a completely different impression of the situation, compared to what he previously had been told. Witnesses negated the false rumours about me. Yet it is to be feared, that powerful and rich organizations will finally win the battle, whereby common sense and moral obligations will no longer stand in the forefront.
Klaus-Jürgen Sucker was wrong about one thing. It was later confirmed that although CARE/DTC had made various kinds of promises they did not actually dispose of the necessary funding in 1994 to keep these promises. When we later confronted them about this, Philip Franks brushed the incidende off by pointing out that these promises should not be taken too seriously. What they really just wanted to say was that, if CARE/DTC would have the saying, then...
However Klaus-Jürgen Sucker was right about something else.
Two CARE/DTC employees had spread false rumours about him in
order to tarnish his initially untouchable position. Even Philip
Johnston, director of CARE-USA, thought it appropriate to spread
these rumours in an official document without considering their
The disagreement between DTC and Mr. Sucker related to his approach to park relations with the local communities. This includes a range of issues among which were an illegal extension of the Mgahinga Park boundary, refusal to allow access to water sources near the park boundary, forcing some women to walk up to 10 km daily to collect water, seizure of jerry cans intended for water collection and heavy fines imposed on their owners, and Mr. Sucker's opposition to piloting multiple use, in spite of UNP having approved it as a policy worthy of testing.
While perpetuating these rumours, Philip Johnston failed to note that Klaus-Jürgen Sucker was in no legal position whatsoever to place penalties on anyone, and he therefore never did. Illegal trespassers who attacked the wardens were lawfully handed over to the local police, who consequently also decided which penalties were appropriate. Johnston also failed to note that the multiple- use concept, the initial cause for the argument, was settled with a compromise accepted by all parties. To this date, we are unable to explain why this highest ranking CARE official finds it necessary to falsely attack Klaus-Jürgen, even after his death.
Towards the end of May, things began to speed up. On May 26, Eric Edroma intended to hold a meeting in Kampala to give all parties concerned an opportunity to voice and defend their opinions. On May 25, however, the CARE/DTC representatives notified that they did not intend to attend the meeting. No explanation was given. Since Eric Edroma held the opinion that Klaus-Jürgen Sucker should nonetheless come to Kampala, he started his journey the same day. One day after the scheduled meeting, Edroma proposed a plan for the co-existence of both projects, whereby CARE/DTC would function outside the park's boundaries. His proposal appeared to be the solution to the problem.
Yet, all the discussions and attempts to salvage the project were in vain. Ever since USAID's "blackmail attempt", Klaus-Jürgen Sucker had no chance to continue his work in the MGNP, only he was not aware of it. The scheduled meeting on May 26, which had given him much hope as all those involved with the MGNP were to join forces in finding a solution, was just a diversion.
Philip Franks later commented to us that he and Rob Wild decided against attending the meeting because they had the impression that it should be a trial, and contended that they did not want to justify their plans and projects. That this claim does not necessarily fit the truth, was later confirmed by Jaap Schoorl, a CARE/DTC technical adviser for park management and law enforcement in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. He told us that by May 22 or 23, Eric Edroma had assured CARE/DTC that Klaus-Jürgen was to be transferred. Edroma therefore decided that it was not necessary for the Americans to come to Kampala for the meeting. Jaap Schoorl was not involved in the argument about multiple-use in MGNP. He started his work in June 1994 and was one of the last people Klaus-Jürgen Sucker met in Kisoro before his death.
On June 6, he was finally informed about his transfer: from August 1 on, he was expected to work as a Park Warden and Technical Advisor for the Kidepo Valley National Park. But does the transfer of the German biologist suffice to guarantee that the takeover of MGNP can be carried through? What would happen if the German conservation organization would decide to install a new project manager, one who could be equally adamant at protesting against multiple-use of a small gorilla habitat, such as MGNP? And if a person like Klaus-Jürgen Sucker were to stay in the country, would he not be a critical spectator, minutely following everything happening in the park?
Of course nobody can be sure whether these or similar thoughts were occupying the minds of certain persons. However, we do know that Klaus-Jürgen Sucker desperately tried to find out the reasons for his transfer, and to find a way to have it changed. At the same time, he was concerned with finding an alternative efficient job in Uganda.
Regarding his transfer, he was only able to find out that UNP generally resort to transfers when employees are being threatened; and there are several accounts which support the fact that Klaus-Jürgen Sucker was being threatened. At least he was able to clarify the necessary procedures to take over a new project on habituating chimpanzees in Murchison Falls National Park. This would have allowed him to stay in the country, as everyone was well aware of, especially at UNP and CARE. Having returned to Kisoro, he started packing his belongings and officially handed over the Mgahinga Project and all the materials for the project to his assistant, the ranger Sheeba Hanyurwa, on June 19.
Obviously aware that he was in danger in Kisoro, he undertook every precaution during this last weekend to keep his planned departure a secret. Nobody in Kisoro, not even his neighbours with whom he maintained close contact, knew that he planned on finally leaving Kisoro on Monday, June 21, to transport his personal belongings to a rented room in the GTZ headquarters in Kampala. His departure never took place. On June 20, around 11 am, he was found hanging dead in his house in Kisoro.
Many thanks to the GTZ headquarters in Kampala. Shortly after his death, they transported all his personal belongings to Kampala during an adventurous night rescue action. One possession though they were not able to transport: all correspondence between Klaus-Jürgen Sucker and the Deutscher Tierschutzbund that described his difficulties with CARE/DTC had disappeared after his death.
Assuming that the official suicide version is correct - which we now think highly unlikely - then the CARE/DTC employees, the USAID management in Uganda and - thanks to their pressure - also UNP are morally responsible for Klaus-Jürgen Sucker's death. CARE/DTC's motive to attain complete control of the Mgahinga Park seems close at hand. The successful establishment of multiple-use in MGNP not only ascertains employment for the project leaders, but also monetary funds, as CARE/DTC almost solely depends on USAID's support. A mid-term evaluation that has been kept secret so far has shown that DTC's project was not at all proceeding as expected. The fault for this was accredited to Klaus-Jürgen Sucker. Consequently, Rob Wild and Philip Franks put more pressure on him. CARE/DTC needed full control of MGNP to implement multiple-use according to their intentions.
In the Impenetrable Forest, CARE/DTC has already managed to attain control of the conservation measures within the park and started various multiple-use projects. This development in the Ugandan gorilla conservation areas is very critical in the view of species conservation. A developmental aid organization that totally lacks experience in mountain gorilla conservation and that is not even willing to consider the advice of experienced conservationists, has now attained control of the habitat of these threatened primates. The incentive is solely the establishment of projects for multiple-use, although ecologists have warned against this and scientific evidence to support multiple-use is still lacking. A risky experiment is being undertaken in a highly complex and vulnerable ecosystem. The losses that we already can count today (e.g. four dead gorillas in Bwindi) can not be replaced.
A camp was set up near Bukavu for the refugees from Rwanda in 1994. The Kahuzi-Biega National Park has largely been spared deforestation so far, and presumably no gorillas were harmed in the old part of the park. One of the reasons for this is the fact that all rangers were assigned to the eastern boundary of the park, where they firmly prevented people from entering. When 50,000 Rwandan refugees were to be ransferred to a camp close to the corridor, this was finally averted by the IZCN/GTZ-project, the UNESCO and the GTZ headquarters. In 1995, an additional 30 rangers are to be employed, thereby ensuring that 130 rangers will protect the Kahuzi-Biega Park.
The situation is less promising in the southern part of the Virunga National Park, which includes the Zairean part of the Virunga Volcanoes. Much of this region has been deforested, including part of the montane forest of the volcanoes. Soldiers of the former Rwandan army, who rule by force over the refugee camps in Zaire, send people into the forest to cut wood which they sell. This forced the gorillas to retreat. The UNHCR has not yet succeeded in preventing refugees from entering the park and cutting wood. Several organizations are trying to protect the area, but unless the refugee problem can be solved, these efforts will be in vain. Very few refugees have returned to Rwanda. In spring 1995, each day 800 to 1,000 of the 750,000 refugees left the camps near Goma. Far fewer are leaving other camps, as they are being forced to remain by the Rwandan militia. In Bukavu a bus with refugees designated to return to Rwanda was even set on fire. There are no indications that the situation will improve.
The above was compiled from a report in the Digit News, Gorilla Conservation News and a communication from the Morris Animal Foundation.
70% of the present Rwandan population are refugees, mostly Tutsi, who fled the country 35 years ago and have now returned. They traditionally own large herds of livestock which they brought with them upon returning to Rwanda. Uganda registered 23,000 emigrants, accompanied by approximately 1 million cattle. Several hundreds of thousands of cattle are now threatening the Akagera National Park in northeastern Rwanda and compete with wild animals for grass. The situation is more promising in the Volcano National Park, home of the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. By the end of 1994, about 25 rangers and other park employees returned to the park from Zaire and resumed regular patrols. Jose Kalpers from IGCP (International Gorilla Conservation Programme) was able to obtain funding to provide the rangers with salaries, rebuild the national park's headquarters in Kinigi and organize equipment and a 4x4 vehicle for protecting the park. Nevertheless, it is still very dangerous to work in the park. A few months ago, poachers fired at unarmed rangers who were on an anti-poaching patrol.
The gorillas survived last year's unrest astonishingly well. Dieter Steklis from the DFGF (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund) visited Karisoke in January and February 1995, at which time he and his colleagues were pleased to note that the three research groups Beetsme, Pablo and Shinda were doing well. The expatriate staff of the Karisoke Research Center still live in Kigali, but the center, which was ransacked and destroyed during the war, shall be restored within the next few months. In addition, the DFGF would like to increase its support for ORTPN, the Rwandan National Park Authority, so that they can enhance their anti-poaching program and education efforts, and a Virunga-wide census of the mountain gorillas is planned. The last census was conducted in 1989. John Cooper, head of the Volcano Veterinary Center in Kinigi, carried out post-mortems on two gorillas who died in March and April 1994. In both cases, the cause of death was pneumonia. Moreover, John Cooper treated a juvenile gorilla in Zaire who had a wire snare around his foot. The gorilla was immobilized and the snare removed.
In December a note was published by José Kalpers, coordinator of the IGCP, reporting that a gorilla named Mkono had been killed by a land mine last November. Mkono is a lone silverback with a hand missing. However, the Rwandan Government emphasized that it has no indication of his death. For some time now, the Rwandan army has removed thousands of mines from the national park, primarily from areas frequented by tourists. Nonetheless, due to the numerous poachers equipped with machine guns who also shoot at people and because of raids through the park staged by Zaire-based Hutu militias, it is still not permitted to enter the park unless accompanied by armed soldiers.
The above was compiled from a report in the Digit News, Gorilla Conservation News and a communication from the Morris Animal Foundation.
After the death of Klaus-Jürgen Sucker in June last year, the financial support for the rangers in Mgahinga Park was stopped. We reported this in Gorilla Journal 2/1994. In that issue, we called for donations to enable the rangers to continue their conservation activities in the way Klaus-Jürgen Sucker had initiated. With these funds, the Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe was able to pay to the rangers their usual top-ups for the second half of 1994 before Christmas, as we had promised.
These pre-Christmas payments caused great joy, because nearly all the rangers had continued with their daily work just hoping to receive their payment. We express our gratitude to everybody who supported our plan, especially to the Förderkreis für Ugandas Tierwelt (FUT). Never before have we received a similar amount of donations in such a short period of time!
In several issues of our journal, we have informed about the road between Bukavu and Kisangani in eastern Zaire that was partly constructed by a German company. 18.4 km of this road pass through the old part of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. For many years, conservationists have demanded a diversion of the road, as they are certain that it poses a threat to the park. Various experts have tried to assess the feasibility of such a diversion, but were unable to reach unanimous conclusions. This showed that long-term studies are necessary to collect sufficient data for a reliable expertise.
In 1993, the Zairean biologist Mbake Sivha began a study aimed at assessing the long-term impact of traffic on the distribution of great apes in the area. Several years of continuous research will still be necessary before she has enough data to analyze the apes' utilization of the different forest types, ranging patterns and demography. Ultimately, she hopes to develop concrete suggestions for improvements in the protection of both chimpanzees and gorillas in the old part of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. In this area, the number of gorillas was estimated at 258 to 284 individuals and the number of chimpanzees at 60 in 1990.
Mbake Sivha works for the IZCN and the GTZ. BRD supports her research by financing her equipment and paying the employees on location. Our contribution will amount to a maximum of 12,000 DM per year for the duration of 3 years from July 1995 on.
We need your support for this project. With your contribution you can help to protect the great apes of eastern Zaire!
Jan Kalina and Thomas Butynski produced a check-list of the bird fauna of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It will be published by the East Africa Natural History Society as a part of its new series of check-lists for East African animals and plants. Both have been working for nature conservation in Bwindi from 1986 to 1992, and one of their tasks were the supervision of Ugandan scientists in Bwindi. During that period they also studied the bird fauna of that region.
Most of the check-lists shall be sold to tourists in Uganda, and the proceeds will be used to fund current conservation measures for the mountain gorilla habitats in Uganda. The Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe will fund the production costs, and our logo will be printed on the list. For the title page, Jonathan Kingdon will provide the drawing of a bird. Similar check-lists will also be prepared for the bird fauna of the Virunga Volcanoes (Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the two adjoining parks in Rwanda and Zaire) and of the Kibale Forest in Uganda.