Rwanda is getting conservation travel right

Rwanda has a strong focus on conservation – and so they should, protecting some of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world that reside in the country.

However, it is not only the gorillas that are a focus, with the conversation and dedication to conservation spanning country wide.

Rwanda recently held the fourth edition of the Conversation on Conservation (COC) at the Kigali Cultural and Exhibition Village, discussing ‘Advancing Conservation through Technology’.

The two-day forum brought together conservation and tourism experts from around the world to discuss, debate and find solutions for conservation challenges.

The COC is a uniquely Rwandan event introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla, is ‘Conservation is Life’.

The event coincided with the week-long 2018 Kwita Izina celebrations. The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony, also focused on the theme Conservation is Life’, took place in Kinigi, Northern Province on 7, September where 23 infant mountain gorillas will be named this year.

The Rwanda Development Board Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, said the Kwita Izina Conversation on Conservation Conference is “an important forum bringing together you, the conservation and tourism experts from around the World, to discuss, debate and find solutions to the challenges we all face in conservation today – in Rwanda, in Africa and Globally.”

COC provided the opportunity to renew profession working friendships and networks, as well as establish new ones.

The Conference was an important call to action in support of conservation and sustainable tourism in Rwanda and the 23 new baby mountain gorillas that were named on the 7th September is yet another indicator that proves Rwanda determination to protect biodiversity assets.

Tourism is one of the key pillars of Rwanda’s economy and has been one of the major foreign currency sources for the last seven years, accounting for 44 percent of service exports as well as 21 percent of all export goods and services.

As a result of conservation efforts such as Kwita Izina, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla has increased to 604 in 2016 in the Virunga Massif compared to 480 in 2010. The Virunga Massif is comprised Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorilla numbers in the entire area had fallen as low as 242 in 1981.

Kate Webster is a world traveller, ocean lover and conservation warrior who is determined to make every moment count for not only herself but the world around her. This has inspired Kate to translate those moments and share them through her storytelling. A dedicated David Attenborough and Jane Goodall fan, Kate has delved into the world of wildlife and conservation travel to bring awareness.