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Guardians of the natural world: Strengthening chimpanzee habitats in Burundi’s Vyanda Nature Reserve

Guardians of the natural world: Strengthening chimpanzee habitats in Burundi’s Vyanda Nature Reserve

Celebrating World Ranger Day and the Inspiring Efforts of 3C and Jane Goodall Institute


Article by Léonidas Nzigiyimpa, 3C
Translated from French. Image above J3C


Since 2019, the Jane Goodall Institute’s US Chapter has supported 3C’s[1] work to strengthen chimpanzee habitats in the southern part of Burundi. One of the actions taken is to reinforce surveillance in the Vyanda Nature Reserve.

Vyanda Nature Reserve is in the southern part of Burundi and covers an area of 4,670 hectares in a strip between 3 and 10 kilometres from the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The reserve is characterised by Miombo woodlands and mountain forests, making it a preferred habitat for chimpanzees. It is classified as Ia by the IUCN, which is the highest category of protected area. However, the reserve faces threats from human settlement; cultivation; deforestation; the establishment of socio-economic infrastructure; and recurrent bushfires, among others.

To prevent this important chimpanzee habitat from disappearing, 3C has developed a series of actions in close collaboration with the Burundian Office for the Protection of the Environment (OBPE) – the national agency responsible for protected areas. Eco guards, or rangers, are vital for surveillance of this area and to make sure that the Ia level of protection can be achieved for this reserve. Therefore 3C’s activities – funded by JGI US – focus on the following areas:

  • Increasing capacity: 3C has recruited and paid for three community eco-guards, to support and strengthen the understaffed team of seven OBPE-funded eco-guards
  • Improving working conditions: 3C is providing a daily ration to the 10 eco-guards, enabling them to camp permanently in the reserve and protect the remaining thirty chimpanzees and their habitats.
  • Enhancing tools and equipment: 3C has constructed and equipped a surveillance post, serving as a base for the eco-guards. This control post is the first of its kind to be established in this protected area.
Location map
Credit: JGI Burundi
Vyanda Nature reserve map

Despite the persistent threats to chimpanzees and their habitats, and the eco-guards remaining underequipped, the combination of the activities mentioned above with the sensitisation of local communities is beginning to yield positive results. This includes the natural regeneration of chimpanzee habitats, the reappearance of species that were nearly extinct in the area, (such as pythons), the eradication of hunting chimpanzees and other animal species, and a reduction in illegal agricultural activities within the reserve.

As we mark World Ranger Day, let us celebrate the dedication and bravery of those striving to protect our planet’s precious wildlife. Discover Dr Jane Goodall’s message about rangers, who she describes as “the brave guardians of the natural world.”

You can also find out more about the United Nations’ ‘30 by 30’ target for 30 per cent of the planet to be effectively conserved and managed by 2030 by visiting the International Rangers Federation.

3C would like to thank JGI US and other JGI Chapters who continue to support and fund their vital work protecting chimpanzees and restoring habitat in Burundi. If you would like to support this work, please click here.

Together, we can be catalysts for positive change and secure a brighter future for animals, people and our shared environment.

[1] 3C (full name – Conservation et Communauté de Changement) is JGI’s recognised delivery partner for conservation work in Burundi. 

“Join me in celebrating these brave guardians of the natural world; not only on this World Rangers Day think about them throughout the year; we owe them so much.”

Dr Jane Goodall

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