Rwanda is ranked among the top safest countries in the world. In the most recent ranking it sixth globally for solo travellers. We, of course, have always known that. It is safe to walk the streets of its cities at any time of the day. No fear of being mugged or, worse, murdered. It is safe on a range of other areas as well. That this is so is not by accident and should not come as a surprise. For the government of Rwanda, the safety and well-being of its citizens, which translates into their dignity, comes first. For visitors, too. It is the result of several things. First, the value Rwandans attach to human life. It is the right thing to do, to put people first. Second, investment in competent and professional security organs and equipping hem appropriately. Rwanda is also a welcoming country. Those who wish to come here, to live, work, or invest are received with open arms. Others in distress, such as refugees fleeing their countries for whatever reason, or migrants stranded far away from home and in danger of certain death or enslavement find safety and a home here. For these, too, their dignity is a prime concern. The welcome and safety is not limited to human beings only. It extends to animals as well. They too must live in dignity and abundance, free from want and protected from the greed, indifference or ignorance of their human neighbours. The other day thirty white rhinos were translocated from South Africa to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park. They were brought here because it was considered a safe place for them. They can breed and increase their number in safety. They will be free from the danger of poachers. As many of you may know, rhinos are among the most threatened animals. Their horn is a much sought after commodity for medicinal purposes or as an aphrodisiac. The recent arrival of white rhinos is only the latest translocation of big game animals to Akagera National Park. They join the black rhino that has been here for a while and lions that were re-introduced in the park after more than a decade of absence. The lions had fled the chaos of the genocidal period and sought safety in other places. Relocating the rhinos is part of wider conservation concerns that include land, waterbodies, wetlands and their respective bio-diversity. It is also part of efforts to restore Akagera as a big game park. Indeed, the famous Big Five can now be found there. Conservation is big in Rwanda. Everyone knows about the conservation of gorillas thanks largely to Dian Fossey and the now famous annual baby-gorilla naming ceremony. Such is the heart Rwanda puts into their welfare that the country has become synonymous with gorilla conservation and sometimes people forget there are gorillas in neighbouring countries also. The reclamation, restoration and protection of wetlands has been going on apace. This has now been extended to urban areas where wetlands have been redeveloped into wildlife sanctuaries botanical gardens as well as leisure spots for humans. Now, Rwandans are not keen conservationists because it is the fashionable thing to do, or because they want plaudits from the influential global environmental community, or even because there is money to be made from it. Its significance goes beyond that. The respect they have for nature as both home and source of livelihood, their efforts to protect its diversity and guarantee its continued existence, is a reflection of a sense of decency and a measure of their values. It is recognition of the earth as a shared home and the interdependency of all its occupants – humans and other animals, plants, and even non-living resources on or buried in it. And so mutual survival dictates harmonious co-existence. We cannot enjoy or benefit from our natural heritage if we do not ensure its continued existence. Nor can really value ourselves if we do not value the other. Even the biblical story of creation has something to say about this. God created the world and everything in it and then gave humankind authority over it all. But it was not for us to do as we please, or destroy but for our sustenance and enjoyment. And for that we have to keep it well. When there was that mighty flood that lasted many months, as punishment for mankind’s wickedness, God saw it fit to save representatives of various species from total destruction. Noah took them into his ark as he had been directed. In some ways, Rwanda is like Noah’s Ark.