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Forest fires threaten gorillas
03 February 2012

For the gorillas living in the Mgahinga National Park, the threat of fire is never far away. In 2008, a fire caused by a beekeeper smoking out his illegal hives devastated large parts of the National Park, forcing the endangered mountain gorillas to flee and destroying the homes and crops of local communities. Realising that this threat remains so long as farmers venture into the forests to set up beehives, the Gorilla Organization has launched a new appeal to support gorilla-friendly beekeeping projects in south-west Uganda.

For the communities living alongside the gorilla habitat, beekeeping is one of the few viable ways of generating some much-needed extra income. The lush forests inside the park provide the perfect environment for this traditional activity: the trees give all the support necessary for the hives to thrive and the climate offers just the right conditions for the bees to make honey.

However, illegal beekeeping is a time-consuming and often dangerous way for people to make a living. What's more, it poses a grave threat to Uganda's endangered mountain gorillas, not least as fires started by farmers smoking out their illegal hives can spread within the forest, destroying the precious gorilla habitat.

The Gorilla Organization is working with the Kisoro Beekeepers Cooperative Society (KIBECO) to give people living alongside the national park the skills and equipment they need to keep bees outside of the forest. Over the past seven years, we've helped train 60 farmers in modern, gorilla-friendly beekeeping techniques, with the honey they produced providing them with a valuable source of income and paying for food, medical bills and school fees.

But now we need your help to extend this assistance to even more people. Your support will make a huge difference, both in terms of protecting Uganda's mountain gorillas and their habitat and in giving their human neighbours the ability to pull themselves out of poverty and enjoy a brighter future.

  • £10 could help us plant the trees and flowers that are needed for the bees to survive.
  • £25 could help provide modern hives for local farmers, enabling them to earn valuable extra income from the honey they produce.
  • £50 could help train 3 farmers in gorilla-friendly beekeeping techniques
  • £150 could help fund the removal of illegal beehives from the forest so that fire does not threaten the gorilla habitat.

The results from our work on the ground in south-west Uganda show that, managed properly, modern beekeeping has the potential to make a huge difference, so thank you for your generous support.

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for further information or photographs contact:

David Hewitt, Communications Manager
The Gorilla Organization, 110 Gloucester Avenue, London, Nw1 8HX
Tel: 020 7916 4974
Mobile: 07801 971123