Category Archives: Albertine Rift Project

Blogger Training in Rwanda

The Albertine Rift project has been running for close to two years now. Most of the bloggers who received the first training have always expressed a need for a refresher course or advanced blogging. As part of the project activities, and boosting the close working relationship with our partners on the ground, the WildlifeDirect Albertine Rift project team is in the field again.

The team travelled from Nairobi on Sunday the 8th to Kigali, Rwanda. The training started yesterday with the ACNR (Albertine Rift Birds blog) members taking part. There has been a technical gap in the organization as the officers who received the first training have so far moved from the organization. To avoid this in future, the chief executive officer of ACNR was among the trainees this time.

Enoch explaining blogging tips

The trainees demonstrated a lot of enthusiasm and it is our honest feeling that they are a better group who feel that the project is adding value to their conservation endeavors. They woke up very early in the morning to take part in polling for the presidential elections which were taking place and then came for the training. With their technical problems solved we believe they will now be posting on their blog regularly.

We as WildlifeDirect feel very excited to be conducting this skills transfer exercise, for the love of Mother Nature. The team is visiting the rest of the partner organizations in the Albertine Rift countries for next one week, conducting similar capacity improvement courses.

By Enoch & Victor

Gorillas, People and WildlifeDirect

January this year on one of our visits to Uganda we had the privilege of meeting one of Africa’s leading conservationists. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, recently the winner of the prestigious Whitley Fund for Nature awards. Her organisation Conservation Through Public Health is one of WildlifeDirects new Albertine Rift Project blogs.

CTPH and WildlifeDirect in Uganda

The team and I were immediately captivated by CTPH and decided they would make a phenomenol blog advocating gorilla conservation. On our return to Nairobi we started making preparations for the followup visit conducting a blogging training workshop in Uganda and Rwanda.

Organised with the help of CTPH a 10 hour journey from Kampala, we held a workshop in Buhoma for the benefit of the community members adjacent to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. An IT centre had already been established by CTPH, run on the ground by David Matsiko. The centre has trained over 150 community members to use computers and navigate their way around the Internet.  This provided an excellent opportunity to train members in the art of blogging and share their experiences and thoughts through a twin blog to the CTPH one Gladys updates. A blog that would be all about the community and the role in gorilla conservation through CTPH.

Our workshop and lodgings were at the CTPH campsite close to the national park.

WildlifeDirect Training in Buhoma

Alex Ngabirano gave us a tour of the lab where all the samples collected from the field  gorilla fecal samples) by Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers were stored and analysed. After traveling to Uganda and Rwanda Twice now working with organisations doing gorilla conservation and still not having seen one myself I was just as happy to be staring into one of the specimens containing a gorillas lunch from a week ago.

Alex at the CTPH lab.

Alex explained how CTPH began it’s work looking into the incidences of disease outbreak in gorillas and comparing it to that of the human population in communities nearby.  It is described in more detail in the introductary post on the CTPH blog.

For more on CTPH keep your eyes on their blog.

Published by Masumi.

Training of New WildlifeDirect Bloggers Debuts in Kampala, Uganda

The MacArthur Foundation-funded Albertine Rift project shifted gear on 24 March 2009 as WildlifeDirect organized the first ever wildlife blogger training in Kampala, Uganda. It was revolutionary in many ways. Many of the participants not having blogged before, they were quite keen to learn all they could about this experience.

Victor in Kampala

Victor explains a point

The training was attended by various individuals representing the civil society as well as governmental organizations in environment and conservation during the two days that it was conducted. They included representatives of the Albertine Rift conservation Society, the Uganda Nile Discourse Forum, Makerere university, Wildlife Clubs of Uganda, the Uganda Environmental Education Foundation, the country’s wildlife authority, Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Kikandwa Environmental Association, and several community-based organisations.

The training took the form of a day of lectures and practical activities, the first step introducing the new bloggers to the WordPress dashboard and how to use it to create a blog post and the second step teaching how to blog well. Victor Ngeny took the trainees through the initial step which was done in an interactive manner allowing the trainees to practice what they learn in real time. No wonder a few of their mock-up blog posts showed up in Baraza and caused a little confusion.

Samuel Maina would then take over the next session which, as interactive as the first one, would teach the new bloggers the elements of a good blog post and how to improve their writing so that they can attract and retain readers. They were also taught how to frame their calls for action such that they were credible and likely to elicit positive response from the readers.

Trainees in UG Day 1

Participants during a practical exercise

Masumi Gudka, who would first introduce each training session, would mostly introduce the new bloggers to WildlifeDirect as an organization and prepare the bloggers for what to some would be a lifetime experience. The participants would also be shown a short video, featuring non other than the Dr Richard Leakey, that explained what WildlifeDirect does.

Amid the tasty teas and open interactions between the training team and the trainees, a new and huge thing was developing. We were building a new community of conservationists from one of the most biodiverse ecoregions in Africa: The Albertine Rift. You can expect to read from the new bloggers we trained soon. Expect good quality posts.

Kampala participants of WildlifeDirect training

Some of the participants pause for a group photo

From  Kampala, the trainers headed to Buhoma, the southwestern Uganda district where the world renowned Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located. The experience there was different. Being rural and close to a national park – with gorillas in it – the experience must definitely be so much different from that in Kampala City. That is why I will tell you about this experience tomorrow.

On the Shores Of Lake Tanganyika

Part of our MacArthur project mission is reach out to countries that fall within the Albertine Rift region. Our next destination was Burundi. Enoch and myself (Masumi), set out for Bujumbura, the capital city.

My first impression of Burundi was defined by the neglected rust covered Air Burundi passenger plane sandwiched amidst UN choppers. Typical Central African scenario right there, I thought to myself. All the websites and news related to Burundi we had were of travel advisory warnings and security issues within the country. We were taking a risk by traveling here. Despite the little knowledge I have about the country it was summed up by the image the plane portrayed. Destroyed, neglected and left to the elements to consume whatever was left.

I feel very differently about it now.

Overall, Burundi is in it’s infancy as far as conservation work is concerned and most of the organisations around are working to alleviate poverty and as a strategy have incorporated some wildlife and environmental protection activities. There has hardly been any previous work carried out on biodiversity surveys or general ecosystem monitoring and thus most environmental organisations are carrying out this baselines research for initiation of conservation projects and activities.

Perhaps in the near future with adequate funding these organisations and others will increase in numbers and implement conservation activities on a wider scale to protect the national parks and reserves in the country. There are a few organisations we did meet that conduct direct conservation but also have a strong social sector involved. Without addressing the poverty of the regions, especially around the 15 protected areas. conservation initiatives would not work and the people are very aware of this.
We had the pleasure of meeting a number of representatives from various Conservation Organisations here in Bujumbura. In general there are groups of concerned individuals who have formed organisations to conserve the remaining natural resources and wildlife this beautiful country has to offer. A major conflict area is deforestation. The population is high, putting immense pressures on the forests for timber for fuel. Many projects have put in place re-afforestation schemes as well as starting tree nurseries to reduce some of the pressure on indigenous forest. Burundi is home to an endemic palm species, I cannot recall the name right now but will make sure I write it in the next post. The most touching part of the conservation work going on here is that all the organisations work together, share information and ideas. This is something I feel most places have lost and it’s what WildlifeDirect aims to promote.

I am very encouraged by the motivation and enthusiasm from everyone we met here. The people of Burundi want change and an opportunity to rebuild their country and protect their wildlife and environment. The media has shed a very harsh and negative light in this region of the world and muffled the peoples voices. I hope that through WildlifeDirect blogs we will be able to help give them a voice and give the rest of the world a platform to support this noble cause.

I promise to post photos as soon as I locate the right USB cable, if not now then in Uganda when Maina and Victor meet me.