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Satellite Imaging and GIS Technology for Wildlife Conservation in Virunga National Parks, Africa
Virunga National Park contains within 790,000 hectares the greatest diversity of habitats of any park in Africa, from steppes, savannas and lava plains, swamps, lowland and forests to volcanoes. Thousands of hippopotamuses and elephants live in the park's rivers and its mountains are a critical area for the survival of the mountain and lowland gorillas.
Visoke Volcano - Virunga National Park — Congo (DRC) and Rwanda
|Visoke Volcano 3D Terrain Model||Visoke Volcano 2D|
Copyright © 2010 GeoEye. All rights reserved.
The Virunga National Park lies from the Virunga Mountains to the Rwenzori Mountains in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo which borders the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Rwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda. Covering 7,800 Km2 it was established in 1925 as Africa's first national park and classified as a World Heritage Site in 1979.
It has become well known for its, although poaching and civil wars in the region have seriously damaged its wildlife population.
Just over 700 mountain gorillas (critically endangered) survive in the wild today, now extremely rare, successful conservation work has secured the remaining populations. It is believed that both savanna and forest elephants (endangered), white rhinos (critically endangered) and chimpanzees can still be found in Virunga, along with Okapi, giraffes, buffaloes and many endemic birds.
Threatened by habitat loss, poaching, pollution and other factors, wildlife species in Africa are declining in numbers at an alarming rate. Land invasions and intense poaching have challenged the park authorities to the limit, but most rangers have remained active. Since 1994, over 150 rangers have been killed in the line of duty protecting the park from illegal poaching and land acquisition.
IKONOS — Mountain Gorillas Nest Lodge — Kinigi, Rwanda
Copyright © 2010 GeoEye. All rights reserved.
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech (NASA SIR-C Radar)
Established in 1925, the Virunga National Park in the DRC is the oldest park in Africa and connects with six other parks. In 1979, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized the park as a World Heritage Site. Such cultural or natural sites are cordoned off LIMITS for protection because of their "outstanding value to humanity." The southern "Mikeno" sector inside the Virunga National Park holds the distinction of being one of two remaining places where mountain gorillas can be found in the wild.
Conservation requires work at many levels, from locally to internationally and involves protection and law enforcement as well as research and education. Active conservation involves frequent patrols in wildlife areas to guard the park from poachers, to enforce laws, census counts in regions of breeding and protection of habitats.
Endangered Mountain Gorillas
Photo Credit: Professor Richard S. Muller
Kuryama the Mountain Gorilla
Photo Credit: Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
VIDEO - Recent Gorilla Executions in the Virunga National Park
Video Credit: National Geographic Society
There are two subspecies of Eastern Gorillas. There are two populations. One is only found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three national parks: The other is found in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable forest. The Mountain Gorilla continues to be considered critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species and faces high risk of extinction in the wild.
Satellite Remote Sensing, GIS Technology and up-to-date field data is the foundation for sustainable Habitat Mapping and make this information and Geospatial data available to the various conservation organizations, Universities and the general public. The GeoEye Foundation donated to Satellite Imaging Corporation (SIC) all available archived IKONOS satellite image data for the parks. SIC performed the various Image processing including orthorectification, atmospheric haze reduction, color balancing mosaicing and tiling and delivered this <1m satellite image mosaic to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) and other Wildlife conservation groups utilizing GIS and CAD mapping applications.
Virunga National Parks
Landsat TM5 (28.5 meter resolution)
August 7, 1987
IKONOS (1 meter resolution)
June 6, 2006
Gorilla habitat crosses three different regions, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, satellite imagery provides data and perspectives that are not bound by political borders and covers large regions. The satellite images can create a convenient method for exchanging information among the three parks that make up the Virunga Conservation area.
Along with mapping and monitoring changes in forest cover, a time-sensitive series of Satellite Images can allow researchers to estimate rates and patterns of deforestation in and around protected areas. These patterns are also studied in relation to trends in human migration.
|Virunga National Park — Google Earth||Landsat Image — Gorilla Habitat
Virunga National Park
Satellite Images facilitate the production of global land use and land cover maps, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which allow researchers to integrate satellite and population data efficiently. Increased human population often leads to greater influence on the environment and sharper declines in species and ecosystems. Deforestation activities and landcover changes probably poses the single greatest threat to biodiversity, resulting in habitat loss and/or fragmentation for wild species. Beyond its effects on the nearby area, it can have global consequences, such as worldwide changes.
3D Flythrough Movie - Visoke Volcano
Broadband connection and QuickTime player required. Size: 18 MB
<1m Stereo IKONOS Satellite Image Data and 5m DTM
© 2010 GeoEye/Satellite Imaging Corporation. All rights reserved.