Maiko National Park
Maiko National Park Location Democratic Republic of the Congo Nearest city Kisangani Coordinates Coordinates: Area 10,885 km2 (4,203 sq mi) Established 1970 Governing body Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN)
Maiko National Park is a national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It lies in one of the most remote forest areas of the country and covers 10,885 km2 (4,203 sq mi). The park is divided into three sectors, straddling the states of Nord Kivu, Province Orientale and Maniema. Three of the country's spectacular endemic animals occur here: the Eastern Lowland Gorilla, the Okapi, and the Congo Peafowl.
In 1949, the Belgian colonial administration created the Bakumu Hunting Reserve on an area that would later encompass the boundaries of the Park as we know it today. The original plans for the region is believed to have aimed at preventing the exploitation of mineral resources rather the protection of the nature and the wildlife. On November 20th of 1970, the Presidential Decree no 70-312 which is bound to the law that had created the ICCN previous year, was signed into force by Joseph Désiré Mobutu. This document asserted the Maiko National Park to be a full-fledged nature protection area.
The rebel problem
The roadless and inaccessible nature of the region made it ideal for some Simba rebels to retreat after their defeat in 1964. Ever since, they have been making a meager living by poaching on wildlife and controlling illegal mining activities inside of Maiko. The presence of the Simba also stems from the inability of the governing bodies to follow the compensatory measures required by the decree of 1970. This precarious security situation have made it difficult for the rangers to patrol the Park, especially after the ICCN was coerced by the Congolese army into guiding their attacks towards the Simba. Moreover, conservation work has also been hampered by the presence of rebels, culminating in capture and detainment of several survey crews between 2003 and 2005. At least three other rebels groups are known to be active in different parts of the park, among which the Rwandan Interahamwe in the east. Put together, these menaces leave absolutely no control over the park area by the ICCN.
International conservation efforts
The first thorough exploration of the Maiko dates back to 1989, when the Wildlife Conservation Society, backed by the ICCN (then ZICN) and supported by the World Bank, the European Community and the WWF, moved into the area and surveyed about 950km of transect . WCS further surveyed the North Sector in 2005  and the South Sector in 2006 . These more recent inventories, along with a smaller study , shed light on the decreased presence of flagship species such as gorilla, forest elephant and okapi in sectors disturbed by human activity. All observations point out to the intense hunting pressure caused by miners and the widespread use of guns as serious threats to the remaining animal populations.
A new approach to conservation has been the implementation of compensation measures for Simbas willing to leave the Park. In 2010, FFI initiated the construction of health centers and schools in villages falling inside the zone of influence of the Simbas. The same year FZS launched an ambitious project aiming at turning the Simbas problem around by recruiting some of them as park rangers and allowing a de facto social reintegration which would directly benefit nature conservation in Maiko.
- ^ Hart, J.A., and Sikubwabo, C., (1994). Exploration of the Maiko National park of Zaire 1989-1992. Working Paper No. 2. Wildlife Conservation Society, New York
- ^ Amisini, F., Grossmann, F., Hart, J., Kibambe, C., Nyembo, B. and Vyahavwa, C. (2005) Identifying conservation priorities for the recovery of the Maiko National Park: postconflict surveys of wildlife populations and human impact in the North Sector of the park. IMU Technical Report No. 4. Wildlife Conservation Society
- ^ Amisini, F., Grossmann, F., Hart, J., Kibambe, C., Nyembo, B. and Vyahavwa, C. (2006) Identifying conservation priorities for the recovery of the Maiko National Park: postconflict surveys of wildlife populations and human impact in the South Sector (Oso Block) of the park. IMU Technical Report No. 6. Wildlife Conservation Society
- ^ Nixon, S., (2010), Participatory Assessment of Grauer’s Eastern Gorilla and Other Wildlife in the Lubutu Sector of Maiko National Park and Adjacent Forests, Fauna and Flora International, Internal Report
National Parks of the Democratic Republic of Congo
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