Research efforts at Odzala supported by SPAC and are overseen by Drs. Magda Bermejo and German Ellera who have focused their research in northern Congo for the past 17 years, where they pioneered the first successful habituation of western lowland gorillas around Odzala.
The location of the study site makes it ideal for the investigation of the human-gorilla interface and the potential for examining any human-wildlife conflict, as these gorillas live in close proximity to the villages on the southern border of the park.
A key element of our researchers’ efforts is the habituation of gorillas for ecotourism purposes and the effect this has on broader gorilla conservation. Their permanent research team in the Ndzehi Forest includes three highly skilled Mbeti gorilla trackers led by Zepherin Okoko. The training of trackers is significant for three reasons:
It enables detailed observation of the gorillas that would otherwise not be possible in this environment; it preserves a unique set of traditional skills; and it provides employment opportunities for not only this team but an ongoing set of apprentices for the future continuation of these efforts.
Mrs. Plattner’s contribution to the Africa promise for the IUCN World Parks Congress:
“We the Africa and World Conservation Leaders realize that the youth and specifically the urbanized youth of TODAY will play a pivotal role in the future. We therefore undertake to scale up all our efforts to expose and connect the world’s youth to Nature – starting at the level of early childhood development and building into all levels of our schools curriculum the necessary training for them to be well-equipped to manage the future of our planet.”