Maiko Conservation Project
One of our most remote projects covering over 10,000 square kilometres of forest.
Maiko National Park, a forested area deep in the DR Congo, holds critically important species and is of global importance as a massive carbon sink. Despite being situated in an incredibly remote area of the DR Congo, we are taking strides to support the Congolese Park Authority ICCN to protect the park and support nearby communities.
Maiko contains all three of the DRC’s most important endemic species: the Grauer’s gorilla, the Okapi, and the Congo peafowl. The park also contains significant populations of elephant, chimpanzee, bongo and leopard. Unfortunately, the park has received little national or international attention or management support since its creation in 1970 and an initial evaluation of the area’s biodiversity is needed. We are working to assess biodiversity within the park and then create strategies for protection and future monitoring.
Due to the park’s inaccessibility and remoteness, the forest block remains a bastion for a group of people known as the Simba Mai Mai, who took refuge there in 1964 after the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Refusing to accept or acknowledge the legitimacy of the Mobutu regime, the Simba have remained in the park ever since, making a meager living from the park’s resources and protecting it from other rebel groups fighting in the region.
We are now working to protect the park with the Simba while simoultaneously relocating them and their families (estimated at 500-700 individuals) who have been living in the park for nearly half a century. During the next few years, we will provide social and economic opportunities to those Simba returning to a normal life outside the park; moreover, the Congolese wildlife authority will recruit 30 young men to join the ranger teams charged with the protection of the park. The Congolese wildlife authority will benefit greatly from the Simba’s intimate understanding and knowledge of the country’s most remote and inaccessible national park, while providing important employment in an area with nearly zero employment opportunities. We will also help reinforce community development around the park by providing agricultural, technical and business training, as well as micro-credit programmes for conservation compatible and environmentally sustainable business enterprises. This will improve the Simba communities’ economic capital and reduce forest dependency.
What we do to support Maiko
- Monitoring and Evaluation: Coordinating an initial survey of biodiversity in the park and map forest cover change
- Community Support: Assisting in the reintegration of the Simba Mai Mai rebels back into civil society
- Community Development: Selecting members of the Simba community to be park rangers, trackers and guides
- Education: Built a school and health centre for the Simba population, provided agricultural, business and technical skills training and development of a micro-credit programme
- Key Infrastructure: Rehabilitating roads and park infrastructure, and a ranger camp with an airstrip
- Planning: Carrying out land-use planning and zoning