I just received word that we succeeded in getting our proposal to the MacArthur Foundation approved. We will receive $250,000 over 2 years in two annual tranches. The funds are to expand WildlifeDirect’s reach through the countries of the Albertine Rift.
These were the words of Dr Paula Kahumbu, the WildlifeDirect Executive Director, as she announced, with much excitement, through an email – towards the end of 2008 – to the WildlifeDirect team and board that the MacArthur Foundation had finally approved our proposal to give more of our fellow Africans the opportunity to spread awareness about the plight of their wildlife, and of those working in wildlife conservation. It was the beginning of an exciting new project – the Albertine Rift Project.
The goal of the Albertine Rift Project is to expand the WildlifeDirect coverage and support more bloggers from the countries within the western arm of Africa’s Great Rift Valley called the Albertine Rift. The project is therefore recruiting, training and starting up new bloggers from six countries in the Region namely: Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.
The Albertine Rift region is special. It is a region of high biodiversity value. According to Andrew J Plumbtre et al the region contains more vertebrate species than any other region on the continent and contains more endemic species of vertebrate than any other region on mainland Africa.
These species include the highly threatened mountain gorillas among other species contained within protected areas such as Virunga and Kahuzi Biega National Parks and Itombwe Massif in Democratic Republic of Congo, Bwindi Impenetrable and Kibale National Parks in Uganda, and Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda which rank highest in terms of numbers of both endemic and globally threatened species.
The region has also suffered long periods of severe civil war which has made conservation difficult resulting in high loss of this biodiversity. As this fighting has eased off in most of the countries it is a good time for wildlife conservation organizations to get in and salvage whatever is left of this unique region’s wildlife. WildlifeDirect, with the support of the MacArthur Foundation, is going to help the conservation organisations working in the frontline of conservation to get their stories out to the world.
The purpose of this blog thus will be to document the project activities and to share with you the success stories, as well as the challenges, as we go along creating a voice for this important biodiversity region.
Join us in this journey.