The population of the famous mountain gorillas in Rwanda grew from 308 in 2003 to 480 in 2010, representing 36 percent, thanks to the government campaign to conserve one of the world’s most endangered species. This is no small feat by any standards.
Indeed, efforts to conserve and protect the mountain gorillas have had a major impact on the country’s tourism sector, whose contribution to the economy rose from US$131 million in 2006 to $ 200 million in 2010.
The primates have also significantly contributed to the fast growth of Musanze District in the recent past, particularly the areas around the Volcanoes National Park as well as the nearby Musanze town which has attracted local and foreign investors alike, eager to set up modern facilities to cater for the ever-growing number of tourists.
Most importantly, the communities around the park have directly benefited from these primates, with the government allocating a portion of the proceeds from gorilla tourism for, among others, construction of classrooms and installation of clean water facilities in the region.
Indeed, the involvement of the local community in gorilla conservation programmes has helped increase the gorilla population, something that has given the annual Kwita Izina (naming) ceremony an international recognition. However, it is important that the success in the conservation of the gorillas is replicated in other wildlife conservation efforts in other parts of the country. Rwanda has a variety of breathtaking tourist attractions.
From the splendid wildlife in the eastern plains, to the magnificent flora and fauna in the south-western region, the country has so much to offer in the tourism industry.
There’s need to steam ahead by consolidating and furthering the gains registered on the gorilla conservation front, and replicating the same success in the other tourist attractions.