April 4, 2022
Successful “Sandwich Conservation”
- as seen by -Tim Davenport @TimRBDavenport@trbdavenport
It has been almost 20 years since we first discovered the kipunji (Rungwecebus kipunji) to science, high on the forested slopes of Mount Rungwe, southwestern Tanzania. To me, it instantly became a symbol of responsibility, a beautiful living reason to protect their fast-disappearing mountain habitats.
We put in place a strategy for long-term holistic action, what I have called “sandwich conservation”. Strong science as a base, with a filling of 15 years of mixed conservation, (with both protected area management and community action), and then more science on top.
Our new survey in 2020 – just published in the International Journal of Primatology – shows the results. Illegal activities have fallen in Mount Rungwe and Livingstone/Kitulo forests by 81%, with a total reduction in illegal timber activity of 90%.
Significantly, the kipunji population (listed as Endangered, formerly Critically Endangered) has now risen by 65%, with a 59% increase in group numbers and a 19% increase in range. Long-term holistic conservation can work with the right approach. The global population is still very low at 1,966 animals, so there remains work to do, but more layers to the sandwich may just help.