A recent rise in the population of Gorillas in the Virunga Mountains, which is home to half of the world’s Gorilla Mountains, will boost Rwanda’s revenue earnings from the tourism sector.
A latest census put the number of Gorillas to 480 from 380 indicating a 26.3 percent increase in last seven years.
Rwanda now boosts of 17 families beating its counterparts in Uganda and Congo.
Currently, mountain gorillas contribute 90 percent of revenues accrued from national parks in tourism receipts, vindicating the country’s heavy investment in the sector.
“Mountains gorillas are the anchor and unique product for Rwanda. As a country, we have chosen to go higher in eco-tourism,” Rica Rwigamba, the head of tourism and conservation at Rwanda Development Board said in an interview with Business Times on Wednesday.
Mountain gorillas are not only a revenue mint for the country but also a driver to the rural economic and social empowerment.
Rwigamba said: “But beyond revenues of the national parks, we have seen growth in and around the national parks where gorillas are found.”
This, she says, has struck yet another initiative by the government to increase and strengthen community involvement in the conservation of national parks.
“We are looking at recognising our communities in their efforts to conserve the national parks, some of these are ex-poachers helping us to fight poaching,” she noted.
In the recent endeavours to strengthen government commitment to promote community participation in the conservation of parks, five percent of the revenues accrued from these parks go directly to communities to support development projects.
Jose Maurel, Senior Advisory Services Division in the Commonwealth Secretariat endorses the initiative.
She says that the community involvement not only strengthens the conservation and revenue collection but also underlines equal opportunities and proper resource utilisation.
Maurel observes that investing in tourism, ICT and infrastructure would help countries like Rwanda realise a faster economic growth to achieve the millennium development goals.
According to the Economic Commission for Africa, Africa needs to grow at seven percent to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before its 2015 deadline.