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Please help Oluokos to develop an Ecotourism Venture in Southeastern DR Congo
$77 raised
0% of $16.4k goal
3 contributors
153 Days running

Project Summary:

In spite of the dark history, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Tanganyika province is one of the last remaining areas in the world where wildlife populations are facing many threats. Situated in the south-east Kabobo Massif consists of sub-montane and montane rainforest on the escarpment to the west of Lake Tanganyika.

Oluokos Signature aims to create a sustainable ecotourism environment through working with communities to conserve and utilize the natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Tanganyika province.  This is one of the last nature’s strongholds with many endemic species that are endangered with extinction if appropriate measures are not taken.

Our sustainable ecotourism project will focus on conducting research, ethical ecotourism workshops, and conservation clubs for local schools to create a sustainable environment through nature conservation.

 

Biodiversity:

Based on the scientific information on the ecosystem, there is still little understanding of the animals owing to their limited access to conservationists. This has made the region to lag behind in terms of development and community’s driven nature conservation.

The ecosystem is divided between a number of different habitats: miombo woodland, highland savannah, and a 1,000 km2 block of contiguous, medium-altitude, and montane rainforest known as Kabobo Forest. Mount Kabobo lies at the heart of the ecosystem and lends the ecosystem its dramatic altitude that ranges from 770 to 2,725 meters above sea level.

 The uniqueness within this altitudinal range in Africa increases the continental importance of the ecosystem. This has made this ecosystem to have a high number of threatened and endemic species, which tend to congregate at higher elevations throughout the Albertine Rift system.

 The diversity of the habitats within means that the ecosystem is home to a wide variety of species, including the largest chimpanzee population in the province. Chimps population is estimated at approximately 1,400 individuals, as well as populations of Bongo forest antelope, and the Prigogine’s Colobus. Biological surveys of the area in 2007 identified at least 1,135 plant species, 71 mammal species, 305 bird species, 14 amphibians, and 26 reptile species (Plumptre et al., 2009).

On endemism, an estimated 22 species of bird, two new amphibian species, and four new mammal species (a bat, a rodent, and two shrews) were discovered during conservation surveys in the ecosystem in 2007. More so, taxonomical work is currently ongoing to identify potentially new plants and species of amphibians.

 

Our Conservation Targets

  1. The richness of the biodiversity of the ecosystem. This includes the high species richness of the ecosystem as well as the endemic species to the ecosystem, the endemic species to the Albertine Rift, and the globally threatened species on the IUCN Redlist
  2. The large mammals are threatened. Separated from the biodiversity target because it was felt that large mammals would need specific interventions that might differ from most of the biodiversity, particularly those reducing as a result of unsustainable utilization.
  3. The diverse habitats within the forests and miombo woodlands. Capturing the diversity of terrestrial habitats in the ecosystem including the various forest zonal types which range from 750-2700 meters above sea level as well as the diverse flora of the Miombo woodland and grasslands.
  4. The Lake Tanganyika’s aquatic ecosystems. This target encompassed the marshes, streams, rivers, and the part of Lake Tanganyika that is more ideal for the conservation of nature and ecotourism development. This would be important to protect parts of the lake and lakeshore in order to protect fish breeding sites and better manage fishing as well as conserve some of them not only unique but also numerous fish diversity of Lake Tanganyika.
  5. Benefiting from the ecosystem. Water provision by the forest and the protection from erosion and landslides are some of the key ecosystem services that benefit not only the forest communities but also the urban households in Kalemie. A best-case study is of the hydropower dam at Bendera that uses water from the forest to generate power that in return lights up Kalemie and its surroundings.

Furthermore, a good deal of carbon sequestered by the forest and woodlands would also be of a greater benefit to the communities.

  1. The ecotourism potential of the ecosystem looks great. This will only be viable if the mentioned species are protected and their numbers increase or remain stable and thus suitable for ecotourism promotion.
  2. The cultural sites to the people of the region. Of great significance, Mount Misotshi is of particular culturally attached to the people living in and around this ecosystem as well as across Lake Tanganyika near the Mahale Mountain area in Tanzania. The local people believe that their god resides there and has influence over this precious ecosystem. There are other sites with shared similarities in the ecosystem.

 

The challenges

  1. Deforestation: With the improvements of the new road from Fizi to Kalemie, people have moved into the region and deforestation has greatly increased as a result of this. Concerns have been raised and the need to manage this must be highlighted as soonest.
  2. Illegal Bush Fires: Heavily practiced by the communities, setting fires to hunt small or large animals as well as to clear forest for agricultural land is widespread and is leading to the loss of forest cover each year. There is a need to check on the illegal and irresponsible burning that often goes rampant during the dry season.
  3. Shifting Cultivation: The old fashion of farming practice in the region involves moving from one ground to another and it has turned to be unsustainable to the environment as it leads to loss of both forest and woodland annually. Through zoning, this way of farming can be managed by a provision of well-demarcated agricultural zones. This is only possible through the proper development of a land-use plan for all the stakeholders.
  4. Unsustainable Fishing: Out of concern overfishing is not a major threat at present but with the future demand for commercialization, especially from the urban settlements within the vicinity of the lake and also coupled with the wrong/illegal fishing gears there could be pressure to fish species in the lake and its wetlands in the near future.
  5. Illegal/Unsustainable Resources Utilization: Both small, medium, and large birds and animals have become targets for bushmeat. This practice is historically part of the traditions. But, in this modern life where man has learned to use sophisticated weapons, the results could be very devastating in the long run. The ecosystem is already suffering from the low numbers of some species namely; elephants, hippopotamus, bongo, and buffalo, as well as some primates.

Our Objectives

As a result, and in consideration, the local population should be given the opportunity to have alternative sources of income. Globally, eco-ecotourism and its related services are one of the most important alternative sources of income and employment opportunities for people living near fragile wildlife habitats.

  • To sensitize the communities on a better understanding of nature
  • Support local livelihoods and increase community involvement in nature conservation
  • To identify possible assets to enlist the help of local people in developing a community-based program
  • To train local people in conducting activities within the defined ecosystem.
  • To mitigate harmful impacts caused by villagers on the hills by creating new sources of livelihood for local people through ecotourism
  • To promote community development through the exchange of cultural and social developments which will create a sustainable income-base for the community. If this is done in accordance with our vision and plan, it will help to reduce poverty in the community.

We Need Your Support

Our Positive Impact - Communities, nature, and the experience

Truly, ecotourism is part of a holistic solution to a problem that if left unchecked could result in the loss of our wilderness in the next few years’ time. We’ve designed this solution to tackle poverty, protect communities, and conserve nature.

For us, ensuring that we have the greatest impact has meant Oluokos creating its own signature footprint. We treasure our community; we’re dearly attached to nature as we depend on it for our lifelong income and we value our guests' experiences. The success of our approach requires three vital ingredients: community, conservation, and commerce. It's only through your support that we can achieve these. Please, come and support us today.

 

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