KIGALI — Tourist visits to Rwanda’s national parks increased by 600 percent since 2003 with revenues from the visits growing by 250 percent, Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said on Monday in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.
Speaking during the 2019 Business of Conservation Conference, which is part of Kwita Izina, Ngirente elaborated on the efforts Rwanda is undertaking to improve conservation.
“Rwanda is not new to conservation and the protection of natural heritage. We recognized the critical need for conservation-based tourism and economic development through the protection of our natural ecosystems,” Ngirente said.
“A few of our conservation achievements include the mountain gorilla conservation in the Virunga Massif as a result of government, communities and conservation partners working together. The 2016 census revealed a 59% increase in participation from 2003,” he added.
He reminded the audience how in February this year, the country witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony for the multi-million dollar Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Kinigi, Musanze District in Northern Rwanda.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (originally the Digit Fund), a charity for the protection of endangered mountain gorillas is among Rwanda’s conservation partners.
It was created by Dr Dian Fossey in 1978 for the sole purpose of financing her anti-poaching patrols and preventing further poaching of the mountain gorillas.
Ngirente also mentioned the efforts being undertaken to restock Rwandan parks with animals that in the end attract tourists.
“African Lions were successfully reintroduced in 2015 after being hunted to extinction in the 1990s. An additional 2 male lions were translocated in 2017 to add to the genetic diversity of a population that is now thriving and continues to grow,” Prime Minister Ngirente said.
According to Ngirente, Rwanda has invested more than $5.8 million since 2005 into more than 647 projects in communities surrounding the national parks.
This solid foundation of conservation, with an aggressive but pro-conservation tourism strategy, has resulted in significant positive socio-economic growth and development benefits for citizens, he said.
-Business of Conservation Conference-
The conference, co-organized by Rwanda Development Board and Africa Leadership University (ALU), through its School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC) convenes leaders from conservation and the sectors it intersects with, to promote best practices, strengthen networks and unique partnerships, and collectively tackle challenges in conservation.