UNWTO/CHIMELONG INITIATIVE ON SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AND CONSERVATION OF GREAT APES IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

26 Jul 18
Democratic Republic of Congo

UNWTO/CHIMELONG INITIATIVE ON SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AND CONSERVATION OF GREAT APES IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

In January 2018, UNWTO launched a project aimed at strengthening links between conservation of great apes and development of sustainable tourism in protected areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The ongoing project activities are centred around:

•    investing in capacity building and equipment provision for the conservation of bonobos, and

•    working with communities to raise awareness on the importance of biodiversity conservation and exploring opportunities to develop sustainable forms of tourism in and around habitats of great apes.

The project hopes to provide local communities with more diverse income-generating opportunities in areas where socio-economic development is limited. At the same time, it responds to the need for concerted efforts to support conservation of great apes in DRC, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 15, which targets a halt in global biodiversity loss.

DRC is home to the second largest rainforest in the world and three of the world’s four major species of monkeys: the gorilla, chimpanzee and bonobo (with the fourth species, the orangutan, living only in Asia). All three are classified as endangered, due to deforestation and the destruction of habitat in the areas where they live. The bonobo is an endemic species of DRC and is under the threat of extinction.

The project is being carried out through the UNWTO/Chimelong Initiative, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). The AWF has its own ongoing project acclimatizing bonobos to the presence of humans in DRC’s Lomako Yokokala Faunal Reserve.