12 July 2013

Rwanda: Primatologist Jane Goodall to Help Promote Rwanda's Chimpanzees

Dr. Jane Goodall, a renowned British primatologist, ethnologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace, arrived last Thursday from Tanzania for her first visit to Rwanda before travelling to the DRC and later Burundi.

Goodall is considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, and she is best known for her 45-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. Over the years, she has made some groundbreaking discoveries, such as the use of tools by the apes (e.g. using sticks to catch termites in a hole), which forced scientists to rethink their views on animal behaviour.

Her work revolves around inspiring action on behalf of endangered species, particularly chimpanzees, and encouraging people to do their part to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment we all share.

Goodall has also founded the Jane Goodall Institute, which was contracted by RDB to help review the status of habituation of chimpanzees in Gisovu area, which is located in the northern part of Nyungwe National Park and boasts of unique tourism products like the furthest Source of the Nile, birding, tea tourism and views of tea plantation landscapes, the dark green mountains of Nyungwe forest and Lake Kivu.

In collaboration with Nyungwe Nziza project and with the support of the Jane Goodall Institute, RDB wants to transform Nyungwe National Park into a viable ecotourism destination and also generate sustainable and equitable income for local communities and other stakeholders.

The Institute will also provide a plan for improving habituation and guiding skills and technical support for increasing staff capacity and augmenting the habituation process in the Gisovu Sector. This will help to integrate the chimpanzee product into the overall Gisovu tourism plan.

The Jane Goodall Institute has already completed the assessment on current progress, future potential and other chimpanzee habituation efforts to-date and a review of the network of the existing trails, and recommendations for the development of new trails based on the chimps' home range. The procurement of chimp trackers and guides, IT equipment and reference materials has also been completed.

The next phase will be the implementation of the Chimpanzee Tourism Development Plan that includes continued provision of guidance and expertise on the best use of IT equipment.

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