The State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property on 8 February 2010. This report contained information on progress accomplished in the implementation of the corrective measures. From 20 to 30 March 2010, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission visited the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009). At the time of writing this document, the mission report is being finalised and will be available on line at the following Internet address: http:/whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/34COM/.
The mission noted that since the last mission in 2006, the management of the Park was greatly handicapped by the presence of rebel groups of the Ugandan « Lord’s Resistance Army » (LRA) in the zone and the consequent state of insecurity. As mentioned at the last session, the LRA attacks in the Park at the beginning of 2009, cost the lives of 15 persons, including a conservator, four guards, a driver and four women. Three children have been kidnapped. More than USD 1.6 million of material and equipment have been destroyed. Vast areas, notably in the buffer zones of the Park (Hunting areas – DC) have been inaccessible for surveillance purposes due to the LRA and military operations. Finally, soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), now numbering 11,000 in 2009, have been very involved in widespread poaching. Therefore the context has been extremely difficult for the implementation of the corrective measures.
The mission notes that security has improved recently: the last reports of incidents with the LRA date from August 2009, although the presence of some small bands of the LAR is not to be excluded. However, with an important FARDC presence, the signs of poaching of large wildlife seem to have increased despite the departure of the LRA. Indeed, with the departure from the zone of the majority of LRA rebels, the FARDC appear to have found the way clear to practice poaching. Cases of harassment of the local population in the villages and at the barriers on the roads have also been noted.
Despite these difficulties, efforts have been made to implement the corrective measures:
a) Authorize the translocation of the Northern White Rhinoceros from the Garamba National Park, ex situ, to a secure place, to guarantee the survival of the sub-species and with the aim of reconstituting the population in situ when feasible;
b) Reinstate detailed monitoring of the rhinoceros population in the property through a specialized monitoring team, building on the know-how available in IUCN and AfRSG
Between 2006 and 2008 intensive aerial and land searches were carried out to seek indications of the presence of rhinos. No indication was found. If in March 2011 there is no indication of rhino presence, the mission deems that this corrective measure will no longer be pertinent.
c) Ensure the protection of the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan within and adjacent to the property
Although transborder cooperation between the DRC and Sudan in the management of the contiguous protected areas of the Garamba/ LantotoNational Park complex was engaged in 2008, the continuance of this transborder cooperation was interrupted following the attack of the LRA in January 2009. With an improvement in the security situation and the reconstitution of logistics lost in the attack, the recommencement of transboundary cooperation could be considered in 2010.
d) Improve the efficiency of the military brigade posted around the property to secure the Park and adjacent hunting areas by replacing the current brigade by a brigade that went through the reunification and retraining programme and by ensuring they are adequately equipped
The mission noted that the presence of the brigade has caused more problems than solutions for the Park as on several occasions elements of the FARDC have been involved in poaching. In 2007, the Park obtained the withdrawal of the brigade but in November 2009, the brigade was once again posted there and continues to cause problems.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN deem that the problem of the involvement of undisciplined elements of the FARDC in poaching activities in and around the protected areas is common to all the World Heritage properties in the DRC and should be discussed by the high-level meeting requested by the Committee at its 31st session.
e) Reinforce cooperation with the Government of Sudan to better control incursions of armed groups into the DRC and the property
No progress has been made with regard to the recommendation that a high-level meeting between the DRC and the Sudanese Government be organized to discuss the problem of transborder poaching. If transborder cooperation with the LantotoNational Park will not enable discussion of this problem at the local level, a sustainable solution can only be found through high-level contacts between the two countries.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also consider that this problem should be discussed by the high-level meeting referred to above.
f) Undertake in cooperation with the United Nations Organization Mission to the DRC (MONUC) a disarmament campaign within the communities living around the property, whilst at the same time improving the security situation in the region
According to the Park managers this cooperation has been particularly disappointing. The activities of MONUC are limited essentially to logistic support for the FARDC, without however changing the undisciplined behavior of the latter. The only success concerning the recovery of weapons (14 military weapons and 7 hunting rifles confiscated since April 2008) was due more specifically to an information network established by the Park. For the time being, this information network appears to be the most efficient way of recovering the weapons in the surrounding communities. The mission considered that the success of the system would require the maintenance of good-neighborliness with local communities. It thought that this measure remained pertinent even if the contribution of MONUC to its success was probably very limited.
g) Ensure that the ICCN guard force is properly equipped and in particular, has adequate arms and ammunition
The guards receive regular supplies of bivouac equipment thanks to partnerships, despite the important loss of equipment during the LRA attack in January 2009. However, less than 10 of the 140 Park weapons are serviceable. ICCN has attempted on several occasions to solve this problem, but without success. The official paramilitary status of the ICCN guards has been refused by the Government and a supply of arms or ammunition could not be obtained. Taking into account the threats to the Park and the risks of encounters during patrols, the mission considers that it is imperative that the guards be correctly armed. This corrective measure can only be implemented through Government contacts at the highest level.
h) Take urgent measures to reinforce and reinvigorate the Garamba guard force and maintain and strengthen anti-poaching efforts
Since 2006, 70 new guards have been recruited and trained, and 37 former guards have retired. However, according to the Park manager, three-quarters of the 138 guards have not yet attained the required level of training to carry out the surveillance work efficiently. Since April 2008, the supervision of the guards in the field has been ensured by a former conservator of the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Despite the problems of insecurity linked to the presence of the LRA, the managers of the Park have managed to maintain surveillance activities in the southern part of the Park, except during the four months following the January 2009 attack. Very little poaching in this part of the park has been recorded and no fresh carcasses have been seen during the aerial controls of 2006 and 2007. The majority of the poaching cases recorded occur in the DC. However, it is difficult to evaluate the real level of poaching in the DC because less than 5% of this area is controlled by the ICCN. Despite the problems with the FARDC, mixed patrols have been deployed in the Park. The mission noted the importance to extend, as far as means permitted, the surveillance of the DC.
i) Strengthen efforts to improve relations with the local communities surrounding the Park
Since 2006, the Park made efforts to initiate community conservation activities, in the framework of a UNESCO programme thanks to funding from the Italian Government. A Management Committee for Community Conservation (CGCC) has been established, grouping together the customary and administrative authorities of the three chieftaincies, and the local NGOs and associative groups. The 12 Community Conservation Committees (CCC) were reorganized into 13 groups surrounding the GNP. These CCC receive support in the preparation of proposals for the development of micro-projects and their implementation. These initiatives are beginning to bear fruit in terms of improvement in relations with the local communities. Currently, the Park focuses on the most frequently expressed concerns by the local community (health, education, access to markets). The mission considered that this corrective measure should be pursued.
j) Establish a trust fund for the rehabilitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) World Heritage properties
See the report on Kahuzi-BiegaNational Park (WHC-10/34.COM/7A.5)
The mission notes the importance of the DC for the integrity of the property, given that wildlife populations live there during part of the year. It felt concern regarding the issue of illegal mining in the DC and recommends that a conservation strategy be developed and implemented in the framework of the development of the zoning plan for the management plan of the Park. It considers that the very rapid evolution of this exploitation constitutes an important potential threat to the integrity of the property. In particular, the pertinence of a co-management approach for the DC based on the enhancement of wildlife should be analysed.
The mission worked together with the managers of the property on the preparation of the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and proposed eight indicators for the desired state of conservation for removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The mission proposed quantifying these indicators, once the information of the new inventory, foreseen for May 2010, will be available.
The mission concluded that the Outstanding Universal Value for which the GNP had been inscribed on the World Heritage List is greatly degraded but, with the probable exception of the Northern White Rhinoceros, it could be restored if adequate management measures for the Park are set up and maintained. The mission acknowledged the efforts undertaken by the ICCNPark managers in the conservation of the property, often at great personal risk to its officials. It considers that with the departure of the LRA from the zone, and the mobilization of important technical and financial means for the period 2010-2015, and if the up-dated corrective measures are enforced, conditions which would permit the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger could be attained in 2015.
The mission formulated a series of recommendations which are integrated into the draft decision to enable the restoration of the Outstanding Universal Value, by updating the corrective measures adopted by the Committee in 2006.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN remain concerned about the state of the property. Despite the efforts of the managers of the property, the insecurity has made it difficult to implement the recommendations of the 2006 mission. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are also very concerned by reports of the increasing involvement of the FARDC in poaching activities, and consider that urgent measures must be taken at the highest level by the State Party to remedy this situation.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN support the conclusion of the mission to maintain GarambaNational Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger and to continue the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism.