|Categories||Communities, Ecotourism, People|
|Date||27 Jan 2014|
Lake Oguemoué lies in the southern chain of lakes along the Ogooué River south of Lambaréné, Gabon. The lakes and river form part of the Bas-Ogooué Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance and the largest Ramsar Site in Gabon. Oguemoué’s surrounding forests hold significant populations of forest elephants, forest buffalo, western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and other Congo Basin forest wildlife. Hippopotamuses and African manatees can be found in river and lake waters, though their populations are thought to be rapidly declining due to hunting pressure. Local residents rely on fishing as a livelihood, but as fish become scarcer alternative income sources are increasingly pursued, including selling bushmeat and wildlife products.
In 2010 a group of concerned citizens from the region contacted the technical advisor, Heather Arrowood, to help them create an ecotourism project to create an alternative source of income and provide an economic incentive to protect threatened wildlife and habitat in the lake region of Gabon. The resulting site, Tsam Tsam, is in part-time operation and revenues generated finance the activities of the local Gabonese NGO, OELO. OELO’s projects include environmental education in 12 local primary and secondary schools, outreach about protected species and hunting laws with local residents and hunters, surveys of bushmeat for sale at local markets, and a sustainable fishing initiative to reduce hunting pressure in the lake region.
With a second Rufford Small Grant we plan to increase Tsam Tsam’s capacity by building team experience and growing our potential market, thereby increasing income for OELO’s conservation efforts. The project will build team independence and site capacity to host tourists. We will exchange teams with a partner conservation organization, PROGRAM, to share lessons learned from our respective ecotourism sites and conservation activities. An ecotourism circuit will be developed and then launched online and advertised to tour operators and partners in Gabon and internationally.
Read about Heather's previous project http://www.rufford.org/rsg/projects/heather_arrowood or for more information contact: