27 February 2013

Rwanda: Regional Treaty On Wildlife Conservation in Pipeline

Photo: Tom Bradley/RNW
Mountain Gorillas in the Greater Virunga region comprising of DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

A partnership treaty between the three countries sharing the Virunga Massif, the home of rare Mountain Gorillas, will soon be signed by respective authorities.

Officials said the agreement that will be signed between Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo would foster coordination and collaboration in conserving wildlife.

This is one of the priorities in line with an action plan under a grant worth $5m (Rwf3.2b) from the Dutch government through the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC).

During a consultative meeting in Karongi district on Monday, relevant authorities committed to further strengthen partnerships with their respective communities.

"We gathered as field staff officials so as to plan on how to effectively utilize the new grant to support our conservation efforts," said Teddy Musabe, the GVTC Deputy Executive Secretary.

Other priority activities include water distribution and management among the populace in the vicinity of the national park.

Musabe emphasised the need to speed up the treaty process which will culminate into a Memorandum of Understanding on trans-boundary gorilla tourism between the three countries.

Chief park wardens drawn from the three countries echoed their commitment to strengthen the trans-boundary collaboration in conserving the Greater Virunga landscape, a network of contiguous national parks bordering Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo.

"It is of vital importance to plan based on field needs," said Moses Olinga, the chief warden in Semuliki National Park in Uganda.

Dr Cosma Wilungula, the chairperson of GVTC Board and Director General of Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation, pointed out the need to overcome the political instability in his country.

Statistics from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) indicate that, last year, the tourism sector generated $281.8m (about Rwf178b) in revenue.

The signing of a partnership treaty would be the latest strategy to coordinate joint conservation efforts in the park.

Under the arrangement, a team of conservation managers, including park wardens, would frequently conduct field assessment. The team also would share basic intelligence information.

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