You may have noticed the new feature on this website called Protect the Park. This innovative system gives you a unique chance to sponsor an area of forest in the Gorilla Sector of Virunga National Park.
We are very excited to be launching this as it was an idea that I had several months ago now. This is how it works:
As you can see on the map, we have divided areas of forest into squares of approximately 30 acres each.
If you decide to sponsor one of the areas, you will be funding our Rangers on the ground to patrol that patch of forest and keep that area free from snares.
You will also get access to pictures and video from your specific area of forest. The Rangers are now patrolling with geo-tagging equipment, which means we know exactly where their pictures were taken.
A Gorilla Ranger takes a picture wearing the GPS photo tagger clipped to his uniform
Rangers using GPS and compass to navigate to one of the squares
Also, if something happens in your area (for example a group of mountain gorillas passes through) we will let you know and upload pictures taken by the Rangers on that day.
Ranger Sekibibi takes the GPS location of the Silverback Humba (in Area 65 which is not yet sponsored!)
For example, last week Margaret from Toronto decided to sponsor Area 45 by donating $25 a month. So a couple days ago Rangers from the Bukima Patrol Post went to that area and removed two snares. You can see pictures of her patch of forest by clicking on square 45 (in yellow) on the map.
Ranger about to destroy a snare found in Margaret’s area.
The exact location of this photo was: 1 23′41.62″S, 29 27′5.15E
We believe that it is the first time that this technology has been used to allow people from all over the world to get involved directly in conservation on the ground. It is a new conservation tool which will allow us to work together with people around the globe to protect the mountain gorillas of Congo. You can see who your neighbors are for example - and your profile photo (as long as you are a Friend) will come up!
If you too want to protect an area of your own, all you need to do is login, go to the Protect the Park page, and follow the simple instructions. So what do you think of this project? I would love to hear your opinions - so please leave comments here.
If you have more questions, you can also watch this short video demo:
This may take some time...
Update from Samantha on Friday 15th May at 11am GMT:
We have had a very positive response to Protect the Park since Emmanuel wrote this blog post yesterday. Thank you enormously. Remember that if you are not already a Friend of Virunga it takes just a few clicks to become one - you start by clicking on Join Now on the top right of the Home Page. You can even import your Facebook photo so it is really very easy. And by being a Friend of Virunga it means you will all be able to see who your neighbors are in the Gorilla Sector! Thanks again…