The Ntakata Forest is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika, due north of the Mahale Mountains and is home to a huge variety of wildlife, including chimpanzees, elephants, leopard, lion, buffalo, zebra, giraffe and endemic birdlife and butterflies. The Mahale Mountains are the original homeland of the Tongwe people, an ancient forest tribe with roots in the Congo basin. The Tongwe view the forest as sacred, and would not cut trees. Nkungwe, the highest peak in the Mahale range, is also their most powerful God.
Tentsile, Tongwe, Nomad Trust
Greystoke Mahale, Chimpnest Camp
Charitable Partner: The Tongwe Trust
The Tongwe Land is situated alongside Lake Tanganyika and has since 1989 received the support of the Tongwe Trust. Home to Ntakata Forest and to a huge variety of wildlife including chimpanzees, elephants, leopard, lion, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, endemic birdlife, and butterflies, Tongwe Land has flourished under a community-led forestry conservation policy.
However, both Tongwe culture and the forest itself are under threat. The aim of the Ntakata Community Forest Reserve project is to assist the Tongwe Trust in its aim to preserve Ntakata Forest for future generations of the Tongwe as well as initiate mutually beneficial conservation projects within the community.In the interests of helping preserve the area through local enterprise supported sustainable tourism, Wild Philanthropy will partner with the Tongwe Trust and special access destinations to help fund, manage and grow the area’s eco-tourist businesses.
An Ecosystem Under Threat:
‘The unprotected forests of Greater Mahale Landscape are coming under increasing pressure from conversion, degradation and loss, resulting from clearance for cultivation, grazing, fuel wood cutting, charcoal production and fire that are current threats to the high value biodiversity of the area.’
Fauna and Flora International, 2013
An Endangered Culture
Insufficient engagement in conservation plans and the pressures of the effects of the values of other more newly settled communities have resulted in internal and external threats to Tongwe culture.
Source: The Tongwe Trust, 2014
The Importance of Preserving Traditions:
Many Tongwe continue to follow the beliefs and practices of traditional ancestral religions. The forest as religious site, spirit sanctuary, and major source of the ingredients for traditional healing medicines, remains imperative to these beliefs. The Ntakata Forest benefits from the stewardship of the Tongwe.
Sources: Ania Kotarska-Boczek, A Sociolinguistic Survey of the Tongwe Community, 2015 & the Tongwe Trust Cultural Value Assessment, 2014
For further information, please go to All Projects Ntakata Community Forest Reserve.