It's been 12 months since we started the Reformed Poachers project in rural Uganda, and it's already making a real difference
Hi, this is Tuver,
Well, what a difference a year makes!
Just 12 months ago, the Gorilla Organization got involved in a really inspiring project in Rubuguri, Uganda. This is one of many communities located within easy walking distance of the National Parks that are home to the critically-endangered mountain gorillas. For a long, long time, the people living here had been reliant upon the nearby forests for their livelihoods. Even though it is illegal, they would often trespass into the forest in search of food and materials or they might chop down trees. As you know, habitat loss is one of the biggest threats facing gorillas in the wild, while the snares people leave on the forest floor to try and catch small animals to eat can sometimes trap gorillas!
This is why we got involved in this community, working directly with the people to build them a new future. The Reformed Poachers project of Rubuguri now has 30 members, most of them men and nearly all of them committed to working with nature rather than against it after years – sometimes decades – spent poaching in the forest.
As you can see, when our Executive Director Jillian Miller paid a visit to the project this month, she found the sustainable agriculture efforts in full swing! Members of the community were keen to show off what they have been growing. You will also see that, while most of the Reformed Poachers are men, the women of Rubuguri also get their hands dirty and have been playing a hugely important role in the success of this initiative.
Along with my colleagues, I am very proud of this project. Of course, ranger patrols and prosecuting poachers is essential if we are to save our cousins, the gorillas, from extinction. We must not rest for one minute! But the Gorilla Organization philosophy has always been to assess and address the causes behind the threats, and this is exactly what projects like this do. Thanks to your generosity, we have helped give a community the means to live without needing to go into the National Park, chop down trees and lay traps. The humans benefit, and so too do the gorillas – the ideal long-term approach to conservation!
So, here you have the latest pictures from the Reformed Poachers project of Rubuguri – see if you can spot our Director among the farmers!