KINIGI — Dr. Geroge Schaller the first researcher to trek the Virunga forests in 1958 on the habits and the life of the mountain gorillas has hailed the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Park-ORTPN for its tremendous conservation efforts.
He was speaking during a party organised by Volcano National Park-PNV to mark the conservation achievements registered last year, which included stepping up routine patrols and increasing community participation in conservation activities.
Schaller, 76, from Wild Life Conservation Society, calls himself an old Silver Back; he spent two years in the Virunga and later wrote a famous conservation books ‘The Year of Gorillas.’
He is currently documenting his conservation activities in Rwanda, China and West Africa.
“Mountain Gorillas live on an island of forests surrounded by people so we must protect and save them, we can’t have long term conservation without collective efforts,’’ Schaller said.
Last year’s PNV achievements, according to the Chief Park Warden, Prosper Uwingeri, included dismantling over 1824 snares and 118 beehives planted within the park while assisting the gorilla females to deliver 27 births including twins.
He said the number of tourists increased last year most of whom were tracking gorillas. About 17,089 tourists tracked gorillas, 1281 tracked golden monkeys. At the same time 975 undertook Bisoke hiking while 402 tourists visited Dian Fossey’s Tomb.109 tourists hiked Karisimbi and a further 114 undertook the nature walk.
At the ceremony, Chantal Rugamba, the Deputy CEO of Rwanda Development Board in charge of Tourism and conservation observed that whereas RDB has registered achievements in conservation, the worldwide competition calls for a strong campaign to involve the community on the principle of protecting wildlife.