An Integrated Geomatics Research Program for Mountain Gorilla Behavior and Conservation
The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) of the Virunga volcanoes region of Central-East Africa has been the focus of much research and conservation activities since Schaller's pioneering field study in the late 1950s. Despite large declines in this population during the 1970s and early 1980s due to poaching and habitat loss, active research, protection, and a successful ecotourism program resulted in the population's recovery by the mid-1980s to a size of about 380 individuals by late 2003 (Kalpers et al., 2003; Fawcett, pers. comm.). Nevertheless, the Virunga mountain gorilla population is small from the standpoint of an effective breeding population size (Steklis and Gerald Steklis, 2001), is isolated, and is surrounded by a dense, growing human population. Its long-term survival continues to be threatened by the introduction of human disease, habitat loss and degradation, and poaching. The IUCN Red Book classifies the population as “Critically...
KeywordsGlobal Position System Geographic Information System Digital Elevation Model Global Position System Data Minimum Convex Polygon
The initial GIS database development and imagery analyses were conducted at the CRSSA, Rutgers University. Later and current work has been conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Informatics International, Inc. of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the Georgia Tech Research Institute of Atlanta, Georgia. Many research associates and students have contributed their time and expertise to this project over the years. We particularly thank Rich Bochkay (CRSSA, Rutgers University), Paul Beatty (Georgia Institute of Technology), Bob Wiencek (CRSSA, Rutgers University), Dr. Larry Lass (University of Idaho-Moscow), Jen LeClair (Rutgers University), Amy Jacobson (Rutgers University), and Theresa McReynolds (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).
We also wish to express our appreciation to the NASA/Cal Tech Jet Propulsion Laboratory SIR-C/X-SAR Program staff for their assistance in acquiring the SIR-C data. Stephan Maas located the historic Belgian 1:50:000 and 100,000 maps for us, and we are grateful to the Belgian Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren and the British National Archives in London for their assistance in providing archival maps of the region. We also thank Dr. Annette Lanjouw of the International Gorilla Conservation Program for the contribution of the Virunga toponym data. Grateful appreciation is extended to the staff, donors, and supporters of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Significant funding for this research was provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Georgia Research Alliance. Additional funding was provided by the MacArthur Foundation, the Daniel K. Thorne Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and ESSI. In-kind donations of equipment and software have been provided by Trimble GPS, ERDAS, and the iPIX Corporation. We thank the three national parks authorities of Rwanda (ORTPN), DRC (ICCN), and Uganda (UWA) for permitting and facilitating our research in the Virunga region. We also thank Sir Arthur C. Clarke for his continuing inspiration and for his assistance in facilitating aspects of this project. Finally, we wish to express our heartfelt thanks and respect to the expatriate DFGFI staff of the Karisoke Research Center, and particularly to the Center's Rwandan field staff, many of whom lost their lives protecting the mountain gorillas, and whose courageous, tireless efforts assure the gorillas' continued survival. In the end, we acknowledge the mountain gorillas of the Virungas, and their right to exist. Information about our research and products can be viewed on the following websites: www.gorillafund.org, www.informatics.org/gorilla.
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