Rwanda plans park expansion to protect mountain gorillas

By AT editor - 16 January 2018 at 7:21 am
Rwanda plans park expansion to protect mountain gorillas

Rwandan authorities say they’re committing USD$180 million to an expansion of the Volcanoes National Park, a habitat for critically endangered mountain gorillas originally established in 1925.

The government will add another 3,000 hectares (7,413 acres) to the parkland, Kigali Today reports. The funding will help to compensate residents who live in the park expansion area and need to relocate. The governor for the Rwandan territory said people knew in advance of the possibility that park expansion may occur and were warned not to commit to improvements or investments beyond one year.

The plan, described to be in its initial phases, focuses on land that will be added to a donation announced last week by the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), which acquired a 27.8-hectare property directly adjacent to the park in 2017.

“I am excited by the great strides Rwanda is taking to develop its natural heritage sustainably, and guarantee long-term socioeconomic stability for its people,” said AWF President Kaddu Sebunya. “Through proactive government policies, community involvement, and open governance, Rwanda is demonstrating that development and conservation are not mutually exclusive. Such a win-win approach to conservation suggests that there is nothing inevitable about conservation challenges in Africa today.”

The mountain gorillas are the world’s most endangered ape, AWF said, and are only found in the Virunga Massif and in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The good news is that they are recovering – they’re the only one of the four great apes in Africa increasing in population – but they face tremendous ecological pressures.

Image: Kaddu Sebunya/AWF

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