On 2 February 2012, the State Party submitted a brief report on the state of conservation of the property. The report indicates that the presence of Ugandan rebels of the « Lord Resistance Army » (LRA) continue to perturb security, even though the number of attacks has diminished in comparison to previous years. The presence of the rebels complicates the management of the property, particularly as regards the anti-poaching measures, as well as the implementation of the corrective measures. Despite these difficulties, the following efforts have been achieved in implementing the corrective measures:
a) Take urgent measures at the highest level to halt the involvement of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in poaching activities
The report states that official action has been undertaken by the General Directorate of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) to resolve this issue. The report notes that the Chief of the General Headquarters of the FARDC has formally instructed the Commander of the military region in this respect, but indicates that a number of undisciplined soldiers continue to carry out poaching activities.
b) Ensure that the ICCN guard force is correctly equipped, in particular with adequate arms and ammunition
The State Party indicates that the guards for the site of Garamba are equipped with material without providing more detailed information. The report notes that the guards lack mapping equipment and ammunition and recall that this situation is a cause for concern, with important risks to the guards when on patrol. No new mapping equipment has been received since 2007, whereas the existing equipment is often of bad quality. Mixed patrols are organized with the FARDC for the surveillance of the insecure areas.
c) Undertake, if possible in cooperation with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), a disarmament campaign within the communities living around the property, whilst at the same time improve the security situation in the region
The State Party informed that the efforts of disarmament and improving security for the communities living around the Garamba National Park are carried out in collaboration with the MONUSCO, the site guards and elements of the FARDC. The report notes that the results of these actions are very satisfactory, but no quantitative data is provided on the number of arms seized and population disarmed. It should also be noted that in 2011 during patrols, the Park guards recuperated nine children who had been kidnapped by the LRA rebels.
d) Renew contacts with Sudan to strengthen transboundary cooperation with Lantoto National Park
The State Party indicated that this measure is one of its priorities, but is waiting for favourable conditions before renewing contacts with the Sudanese of the Lantoto National Park. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that a regional project covering South Sudan and the Bili-Uere Protected Area in the DRC is being prepared by the Wildlife Conservation Society, could be an opportunity to improve and relaunch collaboration between the two institutions.
e) Ensure that a team of at least 200 operational guards are available following the rapid pensioning off of elderly guards and replacement of guards not fulfilling the required qualifications
The State Party informed that 140 guards were operational, and that it has planned for the recruitment of 50 new units for 2012. 30 guards are awaiting the finalization of their briefing file for retirement.
f) Gradually extend the surveillance area to include the total area of the Park and at least 20% of the hunting grounds, by 2015
The State Party indicated that the surveillance area of Garamba National Park and the hunting grounds has been extended due to the regular aerial patrols of these areas, as well as the opening up of routes within the Park. In 2011, for the first time in ten years a few patrols have crossed Garamba and 80 km of surveillance routes have been opened up in the northern part. Two mixed patrols reached the boundary with south Sudan, a zone that had not been monitored by ground patrols since the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This extension to the surveillance of the property will have a positive impact in reducing poaching acticities but unfortunately, quantitative information is not mentioned in the report. The report also makes no mention of quantitative information on the coverage of the property and the hunting grounds, nor reduction in poaching.
g) Establish a conservation strategy for the hunting grounds (DC) so they may fully play their role of buffer zone, and in view of their importance for the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property
The State Party indicated problems of security in the hunting grounds linked to the presence of the LRA. Patrols have been organized to the north of the hunting grounds of Gangala na Bodio and to the west of the Mondo Misa hunting grounds, but the hunting grounds of the Azande remain inaccessible due to insecurity. No information is provided on the establishment of a conservation strategy in the hunting grounds.
h) Strengthen community conservation activities to improve relations with the local communities
The State Party informed that a school has been built in Nagero and that a hospital is under construction, with support of the Spanish Government. Environmental education activities are provided to schoolchildren as well as visits to the Park. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the State Party has accomplished important work with the communities as they have obtained the withdrawal from the gold mines in the chimpanzee area. They have also noted that thanks to conservation activities and community conservation programmes, the populations have not returned to the Park.
i) Finalize and approve the Management Plan for the property and ensure the means for its implementation
The report makes no mention of the Management Plan for the property. The 2011 report made mention that the draft Management Plan (2011-2015) had been finalized and submitted to the Directorate General of ICCN for comment and that its approval was foreseen towards the end of 2012.
j) Wildlife status
The report notes that in the zones covered by the Park guards, no trace of White Rhinoceros had been found, but that the Azande hunting ground and the northern part of the Park where favourable ecosystems existed for rhinoceros, were currently inaccessible due to problems of security.
The report makes no mention of the aerial inventory of wildlife that was originally foreseen in 2010, but which had been delayed several times due to financial constraints and technical difficulties. This inventory is now foreseen for April 2012. The World Heritage Centre received a report from the NGO African Parks Garamba concerning an ongoing ecological monitoring study on elephants with support from Spain through UNESCO. Five elephants have been equipped with electronic collars and their position is followed by satellite. The results demonstrate the importance of the hunting grounds of Azande and Gangala na Bodio, where the elephants spend a part of the dry season and confirm their importance for the integrity of the property.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the importance of confirming the status of the Northern White Rhinoceros that justified the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. They note that the Specialist Group for the African Rhinoceros of the the IUCN Species Survival Commission consider that the Northern White Rhinoceros is probably extinct in the DRC, and they no longer consider the DRC as a State that is part of the distribution for the sub-species. They note that at the global level only 4 individuals remain, in Kenya, that are still capable of contributing to the reproduction of the sub-species. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN confirm the importance to carry out urgently an aerial survey of the populations of large mammals. This type of inventory will provide not only crucial data for the finalization of indicators for the Desired state of conservation, for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, but also demonstrate whether the populations of wildlife are stabilized.
The report mentions also the rehabilitation by the MONUSCO of the route between Aru (Ugandan frontier) and Dungu, crossing the Gangala na Bodio hunting grounds and passing 4 km distance from the central station of the Nagero Park. This rehabilitation will benefit the population and also open up the property, facilitating Park logistics, but also risk encouraging the illicit traffic of bush meat and ivory. In order to combat this illicit trade, the report notes the need to install control points on the road. The report notes that the timetable for the implementation of the corrective measures mainly depends upon a significant improvement of the security situation in the region.