Partners in Conservation
To address the bushmeat trade and deforestation in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo by means of environmental education and fundraising
Two of the major environmental concerns in Central Africa are the bush
meat trade and deforestation, especially where gorillas and other great
ape species are concerned. Poverty and a lack of jobs paying a liveable
wage are also endemic to these areas. These seemingly distantly
connected problems intersect and feed off of one another in a vicious
cycle. Often many of the most lucrative "jobs" involve illegal hunting
and/or deforestation and the resulting environmental degradation
reduces the opportunities for families to escape from poverty.
Partners In Conservation (PIC) was founded and initiated at the
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium as part of the answer to this problem. While
many conservation programmes come from the perspective of saving
endangered animals and habitats first, PIC approaches conservation in
these areas holistically, educating local people about the importance
of conservation and giving them alternative means to earn wages that
are conservation-friendly. By collaborating with local populations and
providing them with education, skills, and liveable-wage jobs, PIC
helps indigenous people become directly invested in saving their
environment, which in turn, helps to conserve gorillas and other
vulnerable wildlife in this area of the world.
Partners In Conservation's central mission is to
conserve the vanishing mountain gorillas and their wild spaces through
respectfully assisting local people. PIC's two main goals are:
To create holistic educational programmes for children and adults
that address the needs of both wildlife and loeal people.
To raise money to benefit both conservation and humanitarian projects.
Since 1991, PIC has invested its efforts in conservation and
humanitarian works in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), realizing that conservation of gorillas and other wildlife
starts with the local people. PIC's fundamental belief is that by
helping local populations to better their lives and thrive without
poaching and deforestation, these people then are empowered to conserve
their wild places. This is part of what makes PIC unique: its
conservation efforts are focused on helping people to become
self-sufficient and invested in their wild places, knowing that once
people's lives are secure, conservation will follow.
PIC also started its effort to offer individuals - some who may never
visit Africa – opportunities to get intimately involved with
conservation and humanitarian work in Rwanda and the DRC. These people
help to create the Rwandan Fete (PICs annual fundraiser), purchase
artisan materials, and raise funds for on-the-ground humanitarian and
conservation efforts in Central Africa.
To accomplish its mission, PIC supports several of its own
projects/programmes throughout Central Africa and funding support to
several partner projects and programmes. These projects include
- Nyungwe National Park: Loeated in southwestern
Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is home to chimpanzees and other
endangered species. PIC supports three projects associated with this
forest: a beekeeping project, an energy saving stove project, and a
basket making project - all of which have worked to reduce
deforestation, forest fires, and pressure on the rain forest. In turn,
this helps to preserve the forest and its indigenous (and often
- The Artisan Project: PIC provides economic assistance to
more than 400 people from 16 artisan cooperatives through using fair
trade practices to purchases the artisans' works. by working closely
with these cooperatives, PIC empowers the artisans to beself-sufficient
without depleting forest resources.
- Imbabazi Orphanage: PIC supports operating expenses for this
orphanage, which carcs for 116 Rwandan children who were orphaned
during the genocide. PIC also provides tuition fees for secondary and
college students from the orphanage. While this is not directly related
to PICs conservation efforts, the Rwandan government was so impressed
with PICs assistance to Imbabazi, that they opened the doors for PIC to
have productive conservation talks with the Rwandan wildlife
- UBUMWE Community Center (UCC): Founded by a teacher from the
Imbabazi Orphanage and a young man maimed in the Rwandan genocide, UCC
helps disabled Rwandan adults and children to live productive and
independent lives. UCC offers education, job skills and training,
meals, and artisan training to people of all abilities. Recently, UCC
added classes for deaf children, who would normally never have the
chance to go to school. PIC provides operating support and other
funding support to UCC, including hot meals and the purchase and repair
of prosthetics for children and adults requiring them.
- The Zoo Connection: initiated in 1993, this project connects
students in primary and secondary schools in America, Rwanda, and the
DRC. The Zoo Connection enables students to exchange information through
school initiatives related to conservation, the environment, and each
- Education First: PIC provides college scholarships to men and women who work in a PIC partner project.
- Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP): PIC
collaborates with MGVP to fund health care for more than 200 trackers
and their families, reducing the risk of infecting gorillas with human
diseases. PIC also helps to fund salaries for the caregivers of infant
gorillas confiscated from poachers.
- Pole Pole Foundation (POPOF): PIC purchases animal carvings
made by former poachers, enabling these artisans to make more money
through wood carvings than they did through poaching. Also as part of
this partnership, PIC helps provide operating support for a POPOF
operated school that teaches children about the environment and the
value of conservation; PIC also funded the construction of this
- Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI): PIC pays the
annual salaries for five gorilla trackers, purchases field equipment,
and funds a language programme in English and French for trackers
through this partnership. Also through DFGH, PIC provides text books
and educational materials to the Sisate Primary School; many of the
gorilla trackers’ children attend this school.
WAZA Conservation Project 08019 is implemented by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
> to project overview