Partners For Conservation
Global Livingston Institute of Colorado USA visited Partners For Conservation.
|Source||Partners For Conservation website|
On May 30th, 2015, at its HQ in Musanze, Partners For Conservation was privileged to host a group of 25 students from Denver University lead by Global Livingston Institute of Colorado USA. They came to Rwanda from Uganda and were interested in learning what this local NGO does in promotion, protection and conservation of biodiversity, particularly the mountain gorillas, a field that Partners For Conservation’s founder knows very well with more than 13 years experience in community conservation with a major focus on the protection of mountain gorillas and their habitat.
In his welcome note, the Founder and Executive Director of Partners For Conservation, informed his guests that 13 years spent with gorillas, he learnt a lot and noticed a number of gaps that need particular attention hence the idea of creating Partners For Conservation, the only platform that gives everyone: from farmers to businessmen, from children to adults, from illiterates to academicians, from poor to donors, from volunteers to professionals, an opportunity to enjoy, measure and feel confortable with what you’re able and willing to do for our biodiversity.
He continued by adding that Partners For Conservation works to extend and share opportunities in promotion, protection and conservation of our biodiversity. We believe that everyone is born a conservator, and that is only means and willingness that make the difference. “This makes our philosophy unique worldwide and is a key for our awaited success” he concluded.
Jamie Van Leuven, Executive Director at Global Living Institute, who was leading the team reiterated that he’s always happy to discuss issues related to gorillas and conservation in Rwanda and requested the students to not miss such opportunity to ask any question they think would help them know gorillas very well in particular and conservation in Rwanda in general.
Before the students could raise their questions, they first of all followed a presentation on 13 years of services by Emmanuel BUGINGO, the Founder and Executive Director of Partners For Conservation. Visibly interested by learning from such huge experience, they were calm and focused.
Among the raised questions include among others (1) the relation between conservation and farming, (2) impact of environmental education, (3) impact of tourism on Rwanda economy in general and people surrounding the gorilla habitat in particular, (4) and the status of conservation in Rwanda in general.
On the relation between conservation and farming, Emmanuel BUGINGO explained that farming in the vicinity of the park has been regarded as a threat. This follows that people there thinks that there’s nothing else as source of income other than land to farm. This causes everyone here to grow with unique objective of having a land. Together with a high birth rate, land here has become a problematic because there can’t be enough land for all. So, for some, they try (and have been trying) to encroach the park in order to extend or own a land. This constitutes a serious threat to this park which; is already small enough. It’s time to work for a mindset of this population by teaching them not only how to use efficiently the land at their disposal but also how to invest in other income generating activities and off farm activities such as small business.
On impact of environmental education, Emmanuel BUGINGO used his own example to stress on the importance of education in conservation. He informed his audience that although he was born in Musanzein less than 12 km from the VNP, he could mention neither a gorilla nor a volcano in morning before leaving for school: “if you ever made such mistake, you had to choose between missing the class or expose your body for the teacher’s sticks”. He commented before adding that the local thinking was that gorillas and volcanoes were there to cause bad luck. He continued by informing his audience that it’s only when he joined conservation (in 2002) that he realized that locals also needed to be educated about gorillas. He went on by explaining that if today, you can see every business bears a gorilla or a volcano name it’s a result of education because this could hardily happen in the past. Today we’re talking about wildlife threatened to extinction because our parents did not enough to protect it. It’s our obligation to prepare the next generation to avoid that our grandchildren don’t question what we’re doing today.
On the impact of tourism in Rwanda economy in general and people surrounding the VNP in particular, Emmanuel BUGINGO informed the students that tourism is a key in the growth of the Rwanda Economy.” Look at here we’re now, we’re counting over 5 hotels while before 1994 there was only one”, he noted before adding that in 2011 Tourism industry has been the country leading foreign exchange earner. As for the benefit of tourism to local population, he talked about the existence of NGOs in the area, programmes such as the revenue sharing all brought in to improve the living conditions of this population.
As for conservation status in Rwanda, he mentioned that the GoR and its partners are doing their best with the government putting in place policies and facilities for everyone who wants to intervene in this domain. He mentioned before concluding that, despite the existing efforts, there’s still a lot to do as threats to the welfare of the gorillas and its habitat are still there. “ we hear about poachers arrested, about snares found within the park… all these are things we should not be talking about today.” He has concluded.
Partners For Conservation was founded to act and advocate for biodiversity conservation and natural resources management in Rwanda. To reach this goal, Partners For Conservation help sharing opportunities in biodiversity, promotion, protection and conservation. In order to allow every society member to enjoy his/her innate gift in the biodiversity management we give priority to programmes such as, education, research, collection and sharing of Information, capacity building development, socio-cultural among others which; form a backbone of our interventions.
Emmanuel BUGINGO; Founder and Executive Director
By Hamiisi Ewedde
Volunteer at Partners For Conservation.
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