By Courtney Danser
Richard Beck, an associate professor of geography, will study gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Republic of Congo.
Poaching and deforestation continue to threaten endangered eastern gorillas in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Republic of Congo. According to the most recent census, there are only 138 of these gorillas in existence.
McMicken College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor of Geography Richard Beck hopes to make an impact in tracking these endangered animals with the help of a Fulbright Specialist Grant in Environmental Science.
The University of Cincinnati's Beck was selected for this award because of his knowledge of geographic information system (GIS) computer mapping, GPS satellite imaging and remote sensing, and his extensive field experience.
His research will help the Institut Congolais Pour La Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) establish an in-country mapping capability to conduct a census for gorillas, map their habitat and track hot spots for poaching.
This mapping system also will allow the ICCN to monitor deforestation in the national park on an annual basis.
The ICCN, along with Beck, hope to develop this mapping capability in a sustainable and cost-efficient way.
“This idea came from an undergraduate student, William Coppeler, an Iraq war veteran who invited an ICCN chief park ranger to visit UC during November of 2013,” says Beck.
“Coppeler’s efforts galvanized several people across the U.S. as part of a multidisciplinary effort to save both the gorillas and the park rangers who protect them from the poachers.”
Beck plans to take his first trip to the Congo in March.