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The Itombwe Mountain in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is an internationally recognized conservation area due to the extraordinary biodiversity of its plants and animals. However, its enviable wealth of farming, mining, forestry, water and cultural resources have been a constant source of conflict and war, leading to the ongoing suffering and human rights abuses of the more than 60,000 Indigenous Mbuti people forest communities and the devastation of their land.

Therefore, the Itombwe Rainforest is part of the Congo Rainforest, the second largest tropical rainforest on Earth, and it is experiencing rapid deforestation. 60% of the Congo Rainforest is located in the DRC, making this region a vital area of concern, particularly as the world looks to forests for carbon sequestration and climate mitigation. In addition to industrialized logging, illegal timber harvesting operations, mining and farming, local communities have depended entirely on the Itombwe’s old-growth forest for fuelwood and other wood products such as timber, charcoal and medicine.

ACIO Wildlife Conservation work to address challenges in Itombwe Mountains and the main threats to primates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’ Itombwe Mountains are poaching, soil and ground water pollution, and large-scale, artisanal and industrial precious mineral mining. The primary cause of armed conflict in the area is mining, which also encourages wildlife trafficking, illegal logging for charcoal, human migration, colonization of forested areas, bushmeat hunting, and the building of makeshift roads through the forests. The region’s extreme poverty and the communities’ reliance on slash-and-burn agriculture are additional factors contributing to the fragmentation and degradation of great ape habitat.

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