Rwanda Invests U.S. $3.2 Million in Projects to Support Citizens around National Parks

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By Peter Mugabo

As Rwanda prepares the 12th Gorilla naming ceremony commonly known as ‘Kwita Izina’, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) says it has splashed Rwf2.6 billion ($3.2 million) in projects to help communities living around national parks.

In 2005, Rwanda through RDB launched Kwita Izina- Gorilla naming, to actively protect the Mountain Gorillas and their habitat.

Since the annual event started, President Kagame ordered that 5% of revenues from all national parks remain in the hands of communities surrounding the parks.

Télesphore Ngoga-head of conservation department at Rwanda Development Board says 48 community-based projects have been established including schools, water channels and hotels, among others.

“More than Rwf2.6 billion has been invested in 480 community projects, as sparkler for awareness and development.”

Gorilla visits remain Rwanda’s cash-cow. At least 93% of all revenues generated from national parks visits come from Gorilla trekking. According to RDB, visits to the Volcanoes National Park has increased to 11% recently.

Foreigners visiting gorillas pay $750. While a foreign resident pays $350, locals pay Rwf30, 000 ($42).

This means that visiting Gorillas is more expensive than in other National parks. For instance, according to RDB, prices for locals visiting Nyungwe and Akagera National Parks range from Rwf5000 ($7) on wards, depending on variety of services offered within the park, while charges on foreigners range from $50 or more.

Meanwhile, Francis Gatare, CEO of Rwanda Development Board told a cabinet meeting chaired by President Kagame yesterday that this year’s 12th “Kwita Izina” ceremony will take place on September 2, during which 22 baby gorillas will be named.

This year’s theme is: “United in driving economic growth through conservation”.

Currently Mountain Gorilla population in the Virunga Mountains stands at an estimated 480, with 302 gorillas from 20 families from both tourism and research groups in Rwanda.

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