MUSANZE – Eighty pupils drawn from primary schools within the Mount Virunga area, over the weekend, undertook a ‘nature walk’ to explore the national heritage at the Volcanoes National Park.
The field tour for the primary five pupils, organised by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
International/Karisoke Research Centre, aimed at encouraging the young generation to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the park for future conservation.
The pupils were drawn from Rushubi, Bisate, Kabwende and Nyabitsinde primary schools in Kinigi Sector. Among others, they toured the Bisoke volcano, and traversed the Virunga rain forest.
According to Joseph Karama, the Fossey Fund’s Conservation Education Manager, the youth need to take pride in their national resources, and their role in conservation efforts.
“Exposing the children at such a young age to their country’s natural resources is pivotal in establishing their connection with nature and ensuring their involvement in future conservation efforts,’’ Karama said.
Prosper Uwingeri, the park’s warden, observed that sustainable conservation and protection of the endangered mountain gorillas required participation of the communities surrounding the park.
“An enlightened generation will not only depend less on park resources such as wild meat, but also help fight illegal harvesting of park resources,” Uwingeri observed.
According to the park rules, children under the age of 15 are not allowed to track mountain gorillas, but explore the forest, through the nature walk.
Denise Uwimana, a teacher, noted that this mode of education is critical in changing the local community’s mindset about the surrounding forests.
“If children continue coming to the forest for the next ten years, not only will everyone around the park have a clear understanding and willingness to help protect it, but also some of the existing problems, such as laying of snares, will stop,” Uwimana said.