How Coffee Helps Save Endangered Gorillas in Uganda

How Coffee Helps Save Endangered Gorillas in Uganda

For a long time communities in the Bwindi impenetrable Rain Forest were dependent on what the forest gave. Since then, the Gorillas are threatened with extinction, the cultivation of coffee, the Chance of a more sustainable way of life.

Already with eight years, he had to go to the forest for Poaching. The now 45-year-old Robert Byarugaba was together with his father in the Bwindi rain forest in southwestern Uganda on the hunt.

“My father forced me to follow him into the forest, because I was his only son,” recalls Byarugaba. “We are wild and hunted from Monday to Sunday. We were in the woods every day.”

Father and son were not the only ones. Also a lot of other hunters roamed the forests in search of Bush pigs, antelopes, goats, and sometimes gorillas. The huge apes were slaughtered to feed the whole family. Their meat and certain parts of the body could also be used for a lot of money on the meat market or on the specific medical markets, where traditional healers to stock, sell it.

In Uganda, half of the mountain gorillas, of which there are an estimated total of around 1000 animals lives. As in 1991, the number of primates had dropped to about 300 animals, highlighted the government of Uganda, the Bwindi impenetrable national Park from the baptism. So the animals could be better protected, because the access has been regulated to the Park. Nevertheless, many of the poachers were more, because the hunting was their way of life.

Byarugaba gave up 5 years later, poaching, and started the cultivation of coffee. But he could not sell enough coffee to make a living. As a sideline he, therefore, led the tourists to the bird watching through the forest.

Since 2017 has changed everything for him. Thanks to the support of Gorilla Conservation Coffee Byarugaba can ride now reliable his living with the income from his small coffee plantation best, as he himself says. The social enterprise provides advice to the small-scale coffee farmers and buys their crops, so they are not forced to plunder the rain forest.

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Coffee is said to be worth

Into the life of the project by Gladys Kalema Zikusooka was called. The veterinarian traveled in 1994 for the first time in Bwindi, and was shocked by the catastrophic poverty of the villagers in the national Park. Later, she founded the non-governmental organization Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), to investigate the mechanisms of Transmission of diseases between humans and wild animals. While you are trying to Gorillas in the forest track, over she came again and again to small-scale coffee-growing areas. The brought to you to Ponder.

Not all coffee farmers supplemented their meager income by lawful means. “We found that some of them wild and in the forest were, to be able to feed their families and to get fire wood for cooking. Money to buy meat, had not the people,” says Kalema-Zikusoka.

The veterinarian Gladys Kalema Zikusooka realised that you have to show people a way out of poverty, if you want to protect the the endangered gorillas.

A farmer, that description was correct, Safari was Joseph. Already in 2007, he began to grow coffee. As well as Byarugaba he could not live many years. He met with others from his community to find a solution. “Our challenge was to find a market for our coffee. Because when we started with the coffee cultivation, there was no market for it,” he recalls.

“That was the time that we applied ourselves to Dr. Gladys. We convinced her to cooperate with us and sell our coffee.” The vet agreed, but on condition that the coffee farmers need to stop with the poaching. In 2015, Kalema-Zikusok founded the social enterprise Gorilla Conservation Coffee.

Today you can buy the Gorilla coffee shops in Uganda, Kenya, new Zealand, Canada and the United States. The organization pays the farmers currently equivalent to € 0.31 (0,34 US dollars) for a kilogram of red coffee cherries. This is almost Double the current world market price. The 500 farmers benefit from this preferential price, are members of the Bwindi Coffee Growers Cooperative that belongs to Joseph also.

The 32-year-old Musiimenta All taken care of for the Cooperative to the area of Compliance, that is, it ensures that its members adhere to legal regulations and sustainable farming methods for the protection of the forest. It is also one of two women within the organization. She uses her Position deliberately, in order to gain the views and opinions of the coffee farmers belonging to.

When her husband died in the year 2014, had to All provide a livelihood for themselves and their two sons out of the revenue of their coffee plantation, the best. Earlier, you drew their fire wood from the forest. Since 2016 it is also a member of the Cooperative. Since you can afford to buy wood for the Fire.

In spite of the striking Gorilla logo, which distinguishes Allen’s coffee for all to see in the super market shelves of other varieties, are loaded neighbourly relations with the endangered primates is a problem. Sometimes the animals on the small plantation of Musiimenta and destroy your plants.

You would want that Gorilla Conservation Coffee micro-issues loans to the farmers in the Cooperative, so that you can increase the income. “Sometimes, I would grow more coffee, but I don’t have enough money,” Allen said.

And Joseph is the concern, whether the company Gorilla Conservation Coffee is can also afford it in the future, the farmers and the entire coffee crop to buy. If not, would disappoint the many.

The founder Kalema-Zikusoka admits that this is a Problem. Because Gorilla Conservation Coffee is dependent on donations to be able to the coffee in pre-pay and bypass the middle men. This does not mean, however, that the company sometimes has enough money in liquid, the volume of their purchases of coffee, you could sell more. “Because we just don’t have enough money to the farmers, the coffee, doctor can’t operate like the market demand,” she says.

Byarugaba would welcome it in addition, if the could social companies make more technical support. So the farmers are trained in better farming methods, but to him, the experts can assess the condition of the coffee plantations are sometimes missing. “Sometimes we are faced with pests and plant diseases, we understand. Then the coffee dry up plants,” says the coffee farmer.

An ethical decision against the thrill

There is one other thing, the missing Byarugaba in his life as a farmer. The sound of the hunting-bells, and the thrill he felt when hunting when his dogs had caught an antelope, the absence of him. And the long days that he spent in the forest by Hiking. The forest, he enters these days.

“I liked the Poaching. Most of the stuff that I made fun out of life, had to do with the poaching,” says Byarugaba, giggles a bit and lets his gaze over to the Bwindi impenetrable rain forest in the distance. But the bottom line is it was worth the sacrifice: “The cultivation of coffee I can be sure that I earn enough money to pay the school fees for my children,” he says.

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The existence of the Gorillas in the Bwindi impenetrable rain forest has increased, according to the latest data from the Ugandan wildlife authority, “Uganda Wildlife Authority” since 1995, from that time 300 to 400. For Byarugaba good news, because its decision was not only secure him the school fees for his children, but in his eyes also a higher good.

“In the last few years, I have made my decision often regretted, because we were able to get so much from the forest,” a he admits himself. “Then I started to earn money and now I regret it: This is the life now is better for me than the previous one.”

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