Rwanda is considering extending the natural habitat for the rare mountain gorillas to handle their rapid population growth.
On September 1st, a total of new 19 baby gorillas will be named at Kwita Izina ceremony- they are an addition to the existing 400 rare species in the country.
According to Rwanda Development Board’s tourism chamber, since 2005, a total of 280 mountain gorillas have been born and named.
Eugene Mutangana, the head of conservation at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said that the growing gorilla population is a step forward.
“We are currently thinking of either purchasing or renting land from citizens to expand the gorilla habitant. This process may take four to six years,” Mutangana said.
It is expected that gorilla populations will reach over 540 by the next population census which is expected to be finalized this year.
Mountain gorillas make up to 90% of government revenues from national parks. In 2016 alone, Rwanda earned $404 million from tourism. The target is to raise $444 million in 2017.
Since the aftermath of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, Gorillas have ‘found peace’ in Rwanda. Tourism experts say for tourism to prosper, peace and security should be guaranteed – so the need for animals in the parks too.
At the opening of a 3-day 41st annual tourism conference in the capital Kigali this morning, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi – Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that violence across the African continent has been the main challenge to tourism growth.
But with Rwanda’s current peace and stability, Dr. Mukhisa cemented that “Mountain gorillas have found it easier to live in peaceful Rwanda than immediate neighbours.”
Mountain gorillas are endangered primate species that live in the Virunga massif and in Bwindi impenetrable forest in southwestern Uganda.
The Virunga massif comprises of a series of volcanic mountains that stretch from southwestern Uganda, northwestern Rwanda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo covering Mgahinga gorilla park, volcanoes national park and Virunga national park in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC respectively.
Meanwhile, the management Gishwati-Mukura landscape – another addition to Rwanda’s national parks, has been put under Rwanda Development Board (RDB) rehabilitation of the natural habitat within and outside the park which started in 2016 at a cost of $9.5 million in five years.
With the new additions to the tourist bases, Mountain Gorillas could find more safety in Rwanda.