Rwanda Ranks 6th in Wildlife Conservation in Africa

Rwanda has been named 6th in Africa for wildlife conservation, attaining a score of 56.7 percent, according to the Wildlife Economy Investment Index report.

This was announced during the Business of Conservation Conference on Wednesday, August 30. The conference, a collaboration between the African Leadership University (ALU) and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), took place ahead of the 19th edition of the Kwita Izina annual gorilla naming ceremony which will be held on Friday, September 1 in Kinigi, Musanze district.

The discussions at the conference centered on the impact of politics on conservation efforts and the pivotal roles played by the private sector and non-governmental organizations in driving investments towards wildlife preservation.

The Wildlife Economy Investment Index report, yet to be officially launched, serves as an indicator of the investment potential in Africa's wildlife economy. It assesses five significant investment avenues within ecotourism, the carbon market, hunting, wildlife ranching, and forest products.

The report outlines a strategic roadmap for the wildlife economy, emphasizing the need to strengthen policies, legal frameworks, and regulatory provisions for natural resource management, particularly pertaining to property rights over wildlife, forests, and fisheries. Other key recommendations include improving the overall business environment, promoting collaboration and partnerships, enhancing transparency and data collection, and building the capacity of all stakeholders involved in managing the wildlife economy.

Commenting on Rwanda's ranking, Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB, highlighted the pivotal role of nature-based tourism, especially ecotourism, in driving Rwanda's thriving tourism industry.

"Our half-year results show a 56 percent growth in tourism, with gorilla tourism alone experiencing a 70 percent increase. This year, we are optimistic about surpassing pre-pandemic levels," she remarked. Akamanzi attributed this success to the dedicated conservation efforts focused on mountain gorillas, preserving natural landscapes, and effectively managing national parks.

She expressed eagerness to gain insights from the report on best practices to further enhance their conservation work.

The conference also featured Thierry Inzirayineza, National Coordinator of the Forest of Hope Association, who received the Diane Skinner Award for Unsung Heroes in Conservation.

His organization was singled out for its mission to conserve the Gishwati forest in the Western Province since 2012. Their efforts have included implementing activities with local communities to demonstrate the direct benefits of forest conservation while curbing unsustainable resource practices. Inzirayineza's work played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Gishwati-Mukura National Park in 2015.

The tourism sector continues to be one of Rwanda's fastest-growing industries, contributing millions of dollars in revenue annually. The 2022 annual report by RDB reveals a remarkable 171.3 percent increase in tourism revenues, rising from $164 million in 2021 to $445 million (approximately Rwf496 billion) in 2022.

In 2022, Rwanda achieved significant milestones in conservation, solidifying its commitment to environmental protection, natural resource management, and climate change preparedness as essential economic assets. These milestones include the operationalization of the country's fourth national park, the Gishwati-Mukura National Park, welcoming the World Bank as a new partner for the Volcanoes National Park expansion project, and the inauguration of the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Furthermore, Rwanda initiated a revenue-sharing scheme, allocating 10 percent of annual tourism park revenues to nearby communities to support their development and prosperity.

In the current year, it disbursed Rwf3 billion to communities in various districts, including Musanze, Rubavu, Rutsiro, Ngororero, Burera, Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe, Rusizi, and Nyabihu, providing varying levels of support.

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