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Responsible Rwanda

By June 2, 2021June 1st, 2023No Comments

A conservation success story in the Virungas!

Rwanda has a tumultuous history that has led to its late entry into eco-tourism and sustainability. However, they are now at the forefront of their endeavors and provide a yardstick for other countries to measure themselves by. With extensive animal conservation, sustainable lodging, and a ban on plastic bags, Rwanda is a small country with a big heart.

Volcanoes National Park, set in the northwest corner of Rwanda, protecting the steep slopes of the Virungas mountain is a forest sanctuary not only to the gorillas but to the golden monkey which are endemic to the area. This area is also home to many communities whose livelihoods rely on the protection of the endangered gorilla.

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

The government of Rwanda has made it its goal to work closely with the local communities especially those surrounding the Volcanoes National Park. This is to ensure that eco-tourism and the sustainability of each community and the surrounding environment are the priority. By encouraging communities to be a part of the conservation of the wildlife that benefits them all has seen an increase in the number of gorillas as well as golden monkeys and other species.

"Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It is about doing more good."

Jochen Zeitz

With the capital generated by eco-tourism and gorilla trekking, in particular, a host of community projects have been funded and completed over the recent years from clinics and schools, feeding projects and freshwater initiatives, to job opportunities within each village.

Image courtesy of Virunga Lodge

In conjunction with the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust, a non-profit organization, Virunga Lodge offers all their guests the opportunity to be directly involved with community projects and to share in the daily life of the local inhabitants. 

One Sheep per Family Project at Virunga Lodge

The biggest achievement of any of these initiatives is changing the lives of the locals in a tangible way

Community Projects at Virunga Lodge:

  • Virunga Crafts Project – a group of local woman making traditional crafts which are sold directly to guests of the Lodge
  • Kinoni Water Source Project – providing clean water to over 1800 inhabitants of Kinoni Village
  • Virunga Water Tank Project – providing 138 water tanks to 138 families living close to Virunga Lodge
  • One Sheep per Family – providing one sheep to each of 140 families in the Sunzu community which in turn provides 
  • Beekeeping – providing honey and successfully reducing human-wildlife conflict
  • Mushroom Growing –  long term aim is to provide an income for families within the community from Sunzu, Nyagatoki, and Bugeyo villages

Rwanda was a country that few expected to recover after the horrifying 1994 Genocide. With a poor economy and political instability threatening to derail tourism permanently, the world was surprised when eco-tourism, in the form of Gorilla tracking, helped stabilize a country in dire need. The burgeoning tea and coffee industry also helped to put Rwanda back on the map for all the right reasons. The goal to save the gorilla helped to create the Rwanda of today – eco-tourism at its best. 

No matter where you travel, be a responsible eco-tourist!

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