Kampala — Rwanda's gorilla protection zone has enlarged following the African Wildlife Fund move to donate 27.8 hectares of land to Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
The land is to be incorporated into the 16,000 hectares' Volcanoes National Park, located in north-western part of the country, bordering Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer of RDB, said the donation to the park is a major step in the consolidation of the country's conservation gains for the benefit of the present communities and future generations.
"Through gorilla conservation and tourism, we are directly benefitting from these wonderful animals," she said in a statement on Jan 10, adding that revenues from gorilla conservation and the resulting tourism has brought into the national coffers US$107million in the past nine years.
Home to the endangered Mountain Gorilla, the Volcanoes National Park has decreased by 54% since its establishment in 1925, according to RDB.
However, the population of gorillas has increased from 285 in 1978 to 480 in 2010 due to the government's conservation efforts.
AWF President, Kaddu Sebunya, said he is excited by the great strides Rwanda has taken in developing its natural heritage sustainably and guaranteeing long-term socio-economic stability for its people.
"Through proactive government policies, community involvement and open governance, Rwanda is demonstrating that development and conservation are not mutually exclusive," he said. "A win-win approach to conservation suggests that there is nothing inevitable about conservation challenges in Africa."
Last year, RDB distributed over Frw 531.5million to more than 158 community-based projects living near the park through the revenue sharing program. The park has received 298,000 tourists in the past 12 years.