Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has received land donation from Africa Foundation so that the mountain gorilla habitat can be increased. The land donted is adjacent to Volcanoes National Park, one of the three gorilla parks in the Virunga Region.
Rwanda Development Board (RDB) received a 27.8 hectare property from AWF which Africa Wildlife Fund to be incorporated in the volcanoes national Park in a handover ceremony that took place in Kinigi, Northern Province. This property adds to the 16,000 hectares that had formerly comprised the national park.
Home of the endangered mountain gorilla has decreased by 54% since its establishment in 1925. Due to the conservation efforts by the government of Rwanda, as well as its conservation partners, mountain gorilla numbers are recovering. The population has also increased from a low of 285 in 1978 to 480 in 2010. Between 2003 and 2010, gorilla numbers have increased by 26.3%. This represents an annual growth rate of 3.7%. The increase in the mountain gorilla population has led to a major challenge, adequate habitat. Seeing the need for additional land, the chief executive officer of Rwanda development Board, also expressed her appreciation to Africa Wildlife Foundation for the land given.
This donation is a big step in the consolidation of Rwanda’s conservation gains for the benefit of communities today and future generations. Through the gorilla conservation as well as tourism, we are benefiting from these animals. Many years ago, the revenues from the mountain gorillas and the resulting tourism has brought about $107 million to the national coffers.
In the past years lots of money was distributed by RDB to more than 158 community based projects through the revenue sharing program. This support will increase this year following the decision of the government in 2017, to increase the revenue sharing program from 5% to 10% of all the tourism revenues.
More so, in partnership with many other conservationists, there are over 700 community based projects that provide housing, health clinics, schools, water tanks that have been provided for the communities living in the twelve sectors and four districts that surround volcanoes National Park. Since 2006, many tourists have visited the volcanoes National Park and an average of about 29000 tourists has also visited this park between 2011-2016. The country has also distinguished itself as a leader in conservation following the most remarkable great ape recovery.
This country is also taking to develop its natural heritage sustainably and guarantee long term social-economic stability for its people. Through the proactive government policies, community involvement and open governance, Rwanda is demonstrating that development and conservation are not mutually exclusive. This approach to conservation suggests that there is nothing inevitable about conservation challenges in Africa today. Rwanda has done a lot for sustainable development.
With support with the Annenberg foundation, AWF bought 27.8 hectares of land directly adjacent to the park to donate to the government of Rwanda to be able to incorporate into the volcanoes National park. AWF recognizes that if mountain gorillas are going to survive in the long-term, this park must be strategically protected and we are committed to supporting RDB.