Kigali — Over 100 regional and international conservationists yesterday attended the annual Kwita Izina conservation conference, aimed at discussing steps and measures to protect the Mountain Gorilla, one of the world's most endangered species.
The conference which takes place ahead of the Kwita Izina ceremony brings together conservationists from the 'Gorilla' countries including Rwanda, Uganda, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Republic to discuss challenges and future directions on Gorilla conservation.
This year's conference held under the theme 'Challenges and opportunities for Gorilla conservation in the Greater Virunga Massive' was in recognition of the United Nations proclaiming the 'International year of the Gorilla'.
In her opening speech, the Trade and Industry Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa said that the conference which brings together scientists and academicians as well as conservation students is vital in securing the future of the Gorilla and should be made a traditional event on the conservation calendar as the Gorilla naming ceremony.
"I encourage you to sustain this good tradition as it is with the Kwita Izina ceremony of naming baby gorillas. I urge you scientists, academia, resource managers and planners to work more closely with authorities, communities and land owners to achieve more sustainable conservation results" Nsanzabaganwa told participants.
She noted that the UN naming this year the "International year of gorilla" is vital in drawing global attention to the plight of the mountain gorilla, the most endangered primates.
Slightly over 700 of them remaining gorillas are in the countries of Rwanda, DRC and Uganda.
Nsanzabaganwa affirmed Rwanda's position and efforts in gorilla conservation, with heavy investment made to protect and conserve the endangered specie urging neighbouring countries to join hands.
"Rwanda has championed and invested heavily in the protection of our remaining gorilla population. So in a way the international year of the gorilla demonstrates a clear international recognition of our efforts" noted Nsanzabaganwa.
She further urged countries with the gorilla massive to utilise the momentum of international recognition and mobilise more resources including science and technology to intensify on the conservation of the gorilla.
In her opening remarks, the RDB CEO Joe Ritchie called upon conservationists to seek means of improving the management of trans-boundary ecosystems especially endangered species.
He stressed the need for all partners working together to avoid tension, citing the example of tourists promoters colliding with conservationists as an example.
RDB Deputy CEO for Tourism and Conservation Rosette Chantal Rugamba noted the conservation conference in its second year has become a platform for conservationists to map out and expand protected areas for the mountain areas, as the last conference had recommended.
"In last year's conference, we noted that tourism is vital for conservation but we also noticed the need to diversify and move away from gorilla based tourism. We have therefore thought out other budding areas to explore in the tourism industry and that's what we have been working on for the last one year" Rugamba explained.