The Itombwe massif in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been identified as one of the most important sites for conservation within the Albertine Rift and contains at least nine species of threatened amphibians with an additional seven considered data deficient to allocate a threat status.
The Itombwe and Misotshi-Kabogo sites are highly threatened at the moment. People are settling in both areas as security in the region has improved or to flee insecurity elsewhere. This is leading to forest loss to agriculture, pastoral grazing of livestock, timber harvesting, and artisanal mining activities, as well as increased bushmeat hunting.
At Misotshi-Kabogo, the most damaging threat to amphibians is the artisanal mining for gold in the park which destroys the streams and rivers. Most of this mining is undertaken by people from outside the region because the local communities do not perceive any great rewards from mining in the massif. In Itombwe, the main threats to amphibians are the loss of habitat to agriculture and cattle grazing. Conservation of their critical habitats is urgently needed to ensure these amphibians can survive and thrive.
With the support of SOS - Save Our Species, this project, implemented by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), will assess the ecological requirements of the endemic and threatened amphibian fauna of the two massifs, support the completion of the consultation process and the establishment of two protected areas, identify whether REDD funding could support the management of these areas as well as create incentives for the communities living in and around them, and ensure that management of the two protected areas incorporates the identified needs of the threatened amphibian species.
This project will seek to establish two new protected areas in these massifs with boundaries demarcated and respected locally and nationally to ensure long term success of the Protected Areas, and conserve the habitats for many threatened amphibian species in one of the most biodiverse regions of Africa.