Manassé Lwimo, Descartes Kasigwa, Béni Hyanga, Ladislas Witanene and MUTAMBO RAJABU Yannick 

PARTNER(S) & SUPPORTER(S): Technical partener

  • ALT ( Tanganyika Lake Authority)
  • South Kivu Government


Biodiversity conservation in Eastern DRC is facing serious threat. 

Biodiversity conservation in Eastern DRC is facing serious threat.

Ruzizi River and Tanganyika Lake are the most important transboundary zones of key biodiversity area in Albertin rift. Almost each year many reports are from community and government level demonstrating how the Hippos are killed. Many threats are listed like community poaching, solders poaching, car knocking against hippos and conflicts in the region. These situations has affected Ruzizi River and Tanganyika ecosystems. Other threats as oil exploration in Tanganyika Lake and the Regional Dam building in Ruzizi River will reinforce the degradation of hippos rest zones and their habitats.

However, as of yet, there is limited information on the number of Hippos present in Ruzizi River and Tanganyika lake DRC side and their distribution.

The lack of the really conservation mechanism at DRC side by creating the hippos protection zone in this transboundary area still a big challenge. This project wants to do a mapping of hippos rest zones and making some signalisations from Ruzizi River to Tanganyika lake DRC side and will increase monitoring activities by the involved NGO's, local community, research centre and government level as the DR Congo wildlife Authority.

Our Goal is to reduce these mentioned threats and the gap in the knowledge of the number of Hippos and to strengthen the capacity of the DR Congo wildlife Authority and local community to monitor current Hippos populations.

Apart from reducing threats, this project aim to increase monitoring patrol coverage; hence increase on the control of the area by the DR Congo wildlife Authority in collaboration with local community. This includes not only arrests of Hippo poachers and other offenders but also sensitization of offenders and local community by organizing meetings and building that will contribute to strength the process of creating Hippos reserve between RDC and Burundi. 

Progress in 2020

The year 2020 was relatively very timid and we carried out the project activities despite the COVID-19 pandemic as listed below:

We supported to develop a community action plan and these activities will be carried out during 2020-2022. Within the action plan:

- We identified the priority community actions to be carried out and plan their implementation according to a time frame;

- We are doing monitoring of the implementation of the identified actions.

- We carried out a research of Common hippopotamus at Rusizi River, South Kivu, and DR Congo: population census and conservation implications.

The lower hippopotamus density revealed in our study might be caused by higher density of human population in Rusizi valley as well as absence of protective lands for hippopotamus.

Further we discovered the negative impact of human pressures (marked by the number of villages within a radius of 5 km, the encounter rate of all human indices, the encounter rate of poaching activities) on hippopotamus presence.

The human-hippopotamus conflict is increasing in the region: in 2019 alone, at least four cases of human life loss and seven cases of poaching on hippopotamus were recorded by us. In addition, humans occupy and unsustainably hippos grazing areas, while the hippos increase in number, causing damage to farming, fishing or on livestock. Therefore, we suggest following conservation implications: the creation of a reserve, avoid building in the shores of Lake Tanganyika, use solar panel fences with electrical fences to separate reserve from the farmers land, and initiate regular meetings on human - wildlife conflicts.

Counting hippos in 2022

The team from the conservation organisation from Luvungi went into the field in May 2022. The goal was to count and control hippos on the Rusuzi River. They have also prepared a place where hippos could be observed in Kagota. This place includes a tourist observatory, which is fenced for security reasons. The association cooperates with the Ministry of Tourism and plan to invite the governor to declare these area as protected. This step would become very helpful for protection of hippos.

© Pictures by Josué ARUNA